Face Time: An Interview with my Kids

Summer’s perfect for quality time with kids, but I’ve got to say, sometimes I think I’m getting a little more quantity than quality. We eat three meals a day together, but the current favorite meal-time discussion topic for my kids? “Tooting.” That’s edgy language to my two-year-old, and when she says it she always gets big laughs from her siblings, so it’s her favorite word these days.

In a quest for a little different line of discussion, my mind drifted to the set of interview questions I’d asked my kids in the previous summers. Looking back, I realized I haven’t done this interview in three years.

That makes enough time for my little #5 to have been born and then develop enough language skills as a two-year-old to participate in this interview. As for our baby, I’ll just have to wait on hearing his words.

In previous years I asked the last questions with Mom as the subject, but since Father’s Day is upon us, it seemed appropriate to switch the subject to Dad this year. I’m not sure how many more years my oldest kids will be willing to do these interview questions, but I do enjoy seeing the personality snapshot of each child right now. My oldest daughter cracks jokes about politics, and my youngest daughter cracks jokes about, well…cracks.

I sat down with each child individually, and they each had my full attention for about ten minutes. So much of the time, life around here runs en masse. Sitting with my kids one on one and talking to them was a great reminder of how much I enjoy each of my kids’ individuality.

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Happy Father’s Day to that big guy in the middle from the whole crew. (Photo taken at a lovely rest stop with “Poisonous Snakes,” somewhere in South Dakota.) 

If you have a few minutes and you can find a willing (or at least semi-willing) child, give them an interview! If you have a toddler handy, definitely do this. Little toddler minds are just the best. You never know what you’ll get…

Here are the questions I used and the answers I got from my kids, with each child labelled by age.

What was the happiest day of your life?
11: Having a sleepover with my friends.
10: There are a lot of good days, but probably when I rode on Thomas the train the day Thor was born and coming home to see a new brother.
7: Probably when I met Isabelle (his friend).
6: Me being born. Because otherwise I wouldn’t exist.
2: My mom got me a sweatshirt.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
11: Either world peace or not have Donald Trump be the president. Either one would result in world peace. (laughter)
10: Instead of running things on coal, oil…things that emit pollution, change things to running on solar, wind, use energy like that.
7: It can be anything? Oooh. Shelby.
6: I would change that in our house, even if someone made a mess, it would just go right away.
2: My dress.

When were you most afraid?
11: When Donald Trump became president (cracks up laughing).
10: There haven’t really been many instances where I was really afraid.
7: When I went rock climbing at Eagle Bluff, 30 feet high.
6: I was the most afraid of that “America’s Got Talent” video where they were doing dangerous things.
2: Bad animals, that bad dog eat me all up. And my doll has eyeballs and makeup.

What do you want to do for a job?
11: Be an elementary teacher.
10: Be a computer technician.
7: Do the Mosdal Scale System business.
6: Two things: I want to be a mom and a masseuse.
2: I want to do this much and be taller (stretches her arms big).

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
11: Any other president. Mom and Dad.
10: Water, or food. Computers.
7: Hooks.
6: Food. Because of course you can’t live without food. And you can’t live without a mother.
2: I can’t live with no shirt on. (Actually, she often does.)

Describe your perfect day.
11: A day where I could do anything I wanted and have lots of slushies and ice cream and stuff.
10: I would get a Nintendo Switch, there are a lot of things, but not enough time for a day. Wisconsin Dells, pancakes for breakfast, pizza for lunch, supper would be salmon.
7: If Shelby diappeared.
6: Go to a castle.
2: Silverware. I farted.

Who are your friends?
11: Lauren, Lindsey, Sophie, Indy
10: Grant, Kyle, Holdyn, Rowan, Ryan and Daniel
7: Isabelle. That’s it. She’s my best friend ’cause she’s my only friend.
6: Eliza, Elin, Ellie, Isabelle, Cassie
2: Tillie and Mom.

What was Dad like as a child?
11: He was probably a little stinker.
10: Reckless.
7: I don’t know.
6: I think he had lots of friends.
2: He was like this tall (holds hands close together), and he was a baby.

What does Dad do when you’re not around?
11: Watch TV.
10: Pretty much the same things he’d do when I am around.
7: Makes oatmeal cookies for himself.
6: Normally in the shop.
2: Dad is supposed to not have me wash windows. Just Isaac.

What’s Dad’s favorite food?
11: Steak.
10: Steak, a T-bone.
7: Oatmeal cookies.
6: Spaghetti.
2: He loves to eat his food.

What’s Dad really good at?
11: He’s really good with tools and stuff.
10: His job.
7: Making scales.
6: Working with metal.
2: He’s good at doing work in the shop.

What’s Dad really bad at doing?
11: Hmm…putting us to bed.
10: I’ve haven’t really witnessed him doing things badly.
7: Not getting work done.
6: Doing his homework, because he doesn’t have any. (giggles)
2: He’s supposed to not go to hospital. That’s why my dad’s not sick.

What’s Dad’s favorite place?
11: His shop.
10: Oshkosh.
7: On the couch watching TV while eating oatmeal cookies.
6: His shop.
2: He likes to live in a house by me and you and everyone else.

How do you know your dad loves you?
11: He hugs me, because that’s what dads do.
10: Because he has me come out and help him with his work.
7: By saying thank you for coming out and helping him.
6: Because he has said it multiple times.
2: He loves me and you and…(lists all family members multiple times)…and I love him.

Go find a willing kid, and take a few minutes and ask a few questions. Their responses become like a little time capsule into their personalities if you repeat the questions over the course of a few years. Maybe it could be a Father’s Day tradition…

Wishing a happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there, the ones here on earth and the ones we miss up in heaven.

Written June 12, 2017

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An Interview with Kids: Ten Minutes Well Spent

Go find a small child and take ten minutes to interview him or her.  I don’t know what you’ll hear, but I do know that you won’t be disappointed.

A few weeks ago I sat down with each of our three oldest kids and gave them a one-on-one interview.  The entire process immediately took on an air of importance to them because we went off somewhere quiet and private (those being relative terms, of course).  I spoke with only one child at a time, so I could really listen to their answers with undivided attention.  In a house with lots of activity and competition for attention, believe me, that got noticed.  Just Mom, listening to me?  Not cooking lunch at the same time?  This must be important.

We sat down at the kitchen table and outside in the back yard.  For ten minutes with each child, I did nothing but ask, listen, and write.  And of course, giggle, nod, and provide an “Oh wow!” when appropriate.  For all of the time I spend with my kids, around them day in and day out, I spend relatively little time intently focused in on any given child.  As a parent, I don’t think I’m unique in this.  At any given time, my mind is sorting through a million things while I’m doing the simple tasks at hand.  When I’m helping someone brush teeth, I’m thinking about that insurance form to drop in the mail.  It’s pretty easy to not be present.

An interview, however, by nature requires full presence and engagement.  I wish I could say I came up with this meaningful activity all on my own, but I didn’t.  I borrowed this idea from Kate Riley’s blog, Centsational Girl.   In my chosen profession of teaching, it is standard practice to beg, borrow, and steal good ideas, so that’s what I did.

I now present the interviews with my 6-year-old daughter,  5-year-old son, and 3-year-old son.  For simplicity, I’m labeling their responses by their ages: 6, 5, or 3.  Their responses are endearing to me as their mother, but I also know that ideas out of any child’s mouth always entertain.

What was the happiest day of your life?
6: Christmas! No, the last day of school.
5: The day when you didn’t have to cook at all.
3: Happiest day is my mom.

Christmas, the almost happiest day of my daughter’s life. (Practicing the traditional Christmas Shoot Out.)

If you could change what thing in the world, what would it be?
6: Candy!  Plant a candy tree and make it grow everywhere you want.
5: I’d change lunch to brunch.  I’d only make brunches.
3: My mom.

When were you most afraid?
6: Late at night. It scares me if a wolf will come.
5: The Wizard of Oz.  I couldn’t get to sleep thinking about the witch.
3: I think a monster makes me scared, because because my dad just kills the monster.

“I’ll get you, my pretty!” keeps my 5-year-old up at night.

What do you want to do for a job? 
6: A person who draws and paints.  Kind of be an artist.
5: Artist.  Use lots of colors and makes some splatters and drips, use some sand, even tree leaves.  Like Antique that paints on TV.  Her paintings are so beautiful.
3: Hmm…let me think about it.  Do what makes me happy, that way I’m not so sad.  And I’ll step on the monsters.

“Happy little trees” make Bob Ross a favorite with my aspiring artists.

His first landscape painting. The new Bob Ross is a red head.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
6: My “blankie” and family.
5: You.
3: Hmm…That little baby over there (pointing to his sister).  She’s a cute little baby.

She’s the one thing her brother can’t live without.

Describe your perfect day.
6: Go to the big park with Mom and Dad and my family and my friend.  Spend some time with my family and play with my friend.
5: On a hot day going to the Mississippi, watch a little TV, swing, jump on the trampoline.  That’s all.
3: Maybe I’d fly an airplane when I get bigger.  I’d just be flying all by myself.

Who are your friends?
6: McKayla, because she’s fun. Boston, he asks me to race.
5: Carter, Shelby, Jackson, Keara (his cousin).  I know that cousins can be friends, but you can’t marry your cousin.
3:  My friends just be nice to me, and not eating me because they’re nice.

And then I asked them about myself!

What was Mom like as a child?
6: Fun.
5: I don’t know!
3: I think you wanted a toy to play with.  And I was a little girl, too (this is my son).

What does Mom do when you’re not around?
6: Take a nap if she’s really tired.
5: Clean the house.
3: When I am sleeping, you are just making lunch for me.

What’s Mom’s favorite food?
6: That pizza that’s new.
5: Salads.
3: Dandelions.

What’s Mom really good at doing?
6: Cooking!
5: Writing your articles.
3: Good at making supper for us while we’re all sleeping.

What’s Mom really bad at doing?
6: Jump roping!
5: Hmm…That’s a hard one.  Can we skip it?
3: One time my mom was sick, and I was very sad that she wasn’t coming into my room and nursing me.

What’s Mom’s favorite place?
6: With her friends.
5: Olive Garden.  Some day can we go there?
3: My mom’s favorite place is at home with me.

How do you know your mom loves you?
6: Because she takes me to bed at night and doesn’t want me to be too tired in the morning for school.
5: You give me hugs and kisses!  That was easy.  Not hard at all.
3: When I was a baby, I was just born out of your tummy.

After interviewing my kids, what did I learn?  My daughter knows that I send her to bed because I love her.  I am perfection in the eyes of my 5-year-old son.  My 3-year-old’s ideas reach far beyond his current speech abilities.  And as for me, I just need to slow down and be intently present every now and then.  To everyone.

Go on.  Take ten minutes.  From the mouths of babes…