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Kid Time

 

After spending intensive time with Steve during the six-week period when I was hauling him to job interviews, to get work boots, to the DMV (multiple encounters), and then to work daily (the 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. shift that suits his internal clock so well but wreaked havoc on mine), I suddenly realized the other day that I've completely lost track of Steve's life now that he's riding his motorcycle again. He's recently-asleep when I wake up in the morning, and he gets up mid-afternoon to take off for work several hours later. Two days ago I stepped into the living room on my way back from moving up laundry in the garage, and as he glanced up from the TV, we both paused and said 'Hi', as if we were friends who hadn't seen each other in months.

About 5:30 this morning, however, I woke up to what sounded like gagging in the bathroom (next to my bedroom.) I could tell it was Steve, and I knocked on the door to make sure everything was okay. As it turned out, he was trying to get rid of a popcorn hull that had lodged in the back of his throat. But when he came out we chatted for a while as he got ready for bed, and I was able to catch up on his work life that's all but disappeared from my radar. It was a nice few minutes.

I've found, through the years, that kids aren't a project like a business that you can schedule for efficiency. It's all too easy to become disconnected from them once they're on their own, and a few quick stabs at "What's up in your life?" (or that time-honored standard "What did you do in school today?") is likely to get you a shrug at best. Real communication involves time; it happens after they go through a process of loosening up/slowing down/opening the channels. Then the good stuff comes out. Kids will come up with valuable insights, or confidences, or sharing once they've had the chance to settle and get comfortable. The key is to be there at the right moment, and having my kids around quite a bit, whether it be my twenty-somethings who still live with me or the younger ones who've been homeschooling for years, I've been able to experience many of those valuable moments that form the web-strands of true connection, and which make parenting rewarding.

 

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