Hi all, first off nope, the title is not a typo! When I did a week-long glacier mountaineering class in Alaska, and we were discussing how to choose a route to the summit,
one of the Andy’s (both guides were named Andy), would always start with, “Well it aint rock science…” I’ve been saying ever since.
This time though, I am not talking about climbing mountains, I’m talking about having a relationship with your kids…
First off, I an NOT one that goes out of my way to give advise about kids. In fact, sometimes people flat disagree with me. I think a swat on the ass end of a disobedient or disrespectful child is ok, leaving a kid on the floor and ignoring him by walking away from him (though never out of eye sight), or duct taping a kid to a wall is perfectly acceptable. (OK, maybe not the duct tape idea, though I have been sorely tempted)
Today though, I had a theory of mine proven yet again with a rare telephone call from Mathmajor, my oldest. Now, you may wonder why the call was rare. Well currently, he is in his 4th year at Western Washington University, taking a full load of math and science classes, working a part-time job, and earning research credits as an undergrad genetics lab assistant. The kid is BUSY!
Given this, if I need to get ahold of him I just and tell him to call me when he as a chance. Tonight, though, he called out of the blue to wish me a happy birthday. In the conversation, I asked how things were going up there with school, work and the lab. The kid (ok he is 21 but still…) talked my ear off!
There are a number of things going on with his genetic experiments. And I won’t even BEGIN to share them here. Hell, I only understood, for sure, part of it. But it was easy to tell how excited and proud he was of the experiments and how much he wanted to share with me.
Folks, here is my advice. When things like this occur, regardless of the age of the kid, the subject matter, or how busy or not you are, its time to hunker down and listen! He was talking genomes, mutations, research papers and hypothesis. I was holding on for dear life, and making a point to ask questions, following up on things he had said prior, and throwing out the few relevent ideas and comments that I could.
He had the same excitement in his voice that he used to have when talking about Thomas the train, Harry Potter or speed skating. The fact that it is important to him, means he wants it to be important to me. And it is! He needs to know for sure I feel that way though. We talked for about 40 minutes until he had to go, and it was fun to experience this with him.
Manchild and I have the same thing, though more regularly and in person. He is a video gamer. On our drives to and from his house, he will speak in-depth about characters, match ups, players, techniques and moves. Being the kid he is, he apologizes for boring me but I tell if its important to him it is to me as well.
Now saying this is all well and good. But again, without proof, it’s no good. I join in the conversation. I sure as hell don’t get all the terms correct, nor the names of characters or players. However, he can tell I have been listening and I am at least on track. He has told me many times “Thanks, most of my friends get tired of me talking about this, but you always listen, and pay attention!” Yep, I have admitted to him, sometimes I get lost or if I am tired I zone out, but it’s not because of him.
It also helps that both the Manchild and I are avid Walking Dead fans, and we can spend hours discussing the last episode and our ideas for the upcoming ones.
So my advice for mom’s and dad’s, even when tough, focus on what the kids are saying. Even though I tried my damdest when raising them, neither of mine are cyclists, nor do I think they will climb mountains. But these kidlets, more than anything are the biggest impact I will ever have on this world. What they care about is something I better care about as well and I damn well let them know that!
OH, it’s also important to be that guiding light and be the one to say to them, “Remember, we are NOT telling gramma about this!”
Like the wind folks!