This past holiday weekend, my nine-year-old son Lee and I took a walk together to the local library to return some books. Instead of rushing back home to do the million and one things I had on my mind to do, I plopped down on the grass in shade in front of the library. I lay down and invited Lee to join me. We spent the next hour chatting about his thoughts and feelings about all sorts of things.
Usually, our conversations are limited to me directing him to brush his teeth, load up his backpack for school, do his homework, put his clothes in the hamper or drink his milk, among other tasks. On his part, he is typically asking me what he can have to eat, where is this or that, or can I help him google something on the computer. We chat at night for a few minutes after I read to him and before he falls asleep, but then isn’t the time I want to encourage conversation. The other time we spend together, we’re engaged in some family activity like swimming, hiking or biking, but rarely do we just chat.
It was probably one of the first times we just sat and talked. Perhaps we were able to have such a rich conversation because he’s getting older and is better able to communicate. But I also think it was because I created the time and the space for such an exchange.
I’ve been told a thousand times that your kids grow up quickly, and before you even know it, they’re out of the house. I figure Lee, at 9, is half way there. It seems the first 9 years were to take care of his physical needs and now is the time to create and cultivate a meaningful relationship. I think all parents, those who work outside the home and those who don’t, probably fall into the trap at times of not really taking the time to get know what our kids our thinking or feeling. I know I do. I think I’ll try to change that. Because when Lee is long gone, it's those lazy days laying in the grass and talking that I want him to remember.