My parents never asked questions. No questions about my friends, my comings and goings, my grades, my aspirations—none of it. It was a different time, and to be fair, maybe they did ask me, but I don’t remember any of it.
Either way, I certainly ask a lot of questions. Given technology and the other distractions of our fast-paced social climate, it’s important to me that I connect with each of my kids—however I can.
Here’s how it’s going so far.
Teen #1 declares he is meeting some friends for dinner and a movie.
“What time is the movie?” I ask.
“7:10. Then we will probably grab a late dinner.”
“Sounds good. What movie?”
I really have no interest in said movie, but I do my best to feign some.
“Oh, is that part of the series?”
“Why do you care? You’re never going to see it.” #truth
“Probably true. I was just curious.”
I press on.
“So, who’s going?”
He names a few friends and gets to a name that I don’t know.
“You don’t know them.” Followed by my personal favorite: “Why do you care?”
Hmmmm. Why do I care? Well, for starters, I actually am the one that created you. Add in the sleepless nights, the countless hours thinking about you, worrying about you, driving you, yeah, why would I care? I care so that the next time you say you are going out, I can casually mention New Person’s name and actually feel like I know something about you. That feels good, and I deserve something to feel good about, don’t I?
Teen #2 races in from school only to quickly turn around and head back out to a sports practice.
“Hey—how was your day, honey?”
“You always ask the same thing.” I can only see the back of her head, but I know she is rolling her eyes because I am psychic.
“Maybe because I care.”
“Yeah, yeah, same as usual. Science test was hard, lots of English reading to do, and then I am in a group with Lindsey, Rachel, Ally, and Kate to finish up our art project.”
“Oh, is that a new work group for you?”
She looks annoyed.
“What?” I ask. Really, I have no idea what I could possibly have said to get that look—at least this time.
“Mom—it’s the same group all year. You know this. I’ve told you a thousand times. Why don’t you listen to me?”
Hmmm. Why don’t I listen? Let’s see. Because while you are telling me about your day, I am finishing up a work email, thinking about the fact there is no food in the refrigerator, haven’t quite figured out the flight arrangements for the family trip we are planning, and realize I haven’t made any of the doctors appointments I was supposed to make.
Teen #3 FaceTimes from college. I am always happy to see that dimpled smile.
“Hey hon, what’s up?”
“I am looking at the spring break schedule, and flights are so expensive. We’re thinking about driving instead.”
“To Florida?” I try to use my best neutral voice, which sounds like “Are you flipping crazy?” voice to my independent college student.
“What difference does it make?”
“That’s just a lot of driving, a lot of tired kids in one car. It just sounds like a bad idea.”
“But it doesn’t affect you.”
Hmmm. It doesn’t affect me? Nope, worrying about my son and his friends for two drives, an entire week of partying, potentially (read: assuredly) bad decision after bad decision—why would that affect me? I can’t imagine how I could have a care in the world about this.
After all, why can’t I be more like my parents?