February 24

A Dime Given, A Dollar Received

My late mother-in-law was the master of engaging children in conversations and letting them know she was interested in their lives.  Over the years I’ve watch Sophie’s friends go through difficult situations ranging from the sudden death of a parent, academic struggles, changing schools and not fitting in. I think often about how grateful I would have been if my friend’s parents had asked how I was doing after my parents divorced or how I was adjusting to new asthma medications or or after the still-born deaths of two step-siblings. I remember thinking that adults didn’t understand that grief and challenges aren’t insignificant just because they are happening to kids. Just because kids aren’t always forthcoming doesn’t mean they don’t want adults to show an interest in their lives.

We play a game at our dinner table we refer to as Best/Worst in which each of us recounts the best and worst parts of our day. I find it a helpful tool in starting conversations about things that are tough for kids that they can’t articulate easily. I think it’s also good for kids to know that adults struggle too. We have times we’re afraid or hurt because as we know the bullies just grow up to be adult bullies. But you can see it on a child’s face when you ask them, “How’s it going with the new step-brother?” or “Are you going out for track?” “How are you feeling about high school next year? Have you chosen your classes?” Perhaps we could all close our eyes for a moment and remember what it was like to be a certain age, to feel awkward, to feel vulnerable, to feel carefree, to feel like a child. Think of how great it would have been to have an adult who isn’t your parent asking how you felt about getting a role in the play or going to the school dance or wishing you good luck on your placement test and encouraging you in life. They will remember I promise.