Even though I’m with my children 24/7, they still have a way of taking me by surprise. Just the other day, my three-year-old proposed.
He first asked me about the plan for the day. I said it was just a day to stay at home. He saw that as an opportunity and casually responded, “Okay. So why don’t we just get married today, you and me?”
I have to say, I was surprised and flattered. Nobody has proposed to me in quite a while. I told him that sounded nice, but then he went off to ride his trike and the whole wedding never happened. It’s probably for the best, since I already married his dad.
I love to hear the thoughts and ideas that come out of kids’ heads.
A year ago, I interviewed my three oldest kids, asking them each the same set of questions in a personal interview. A few nights ago, those interviews popped into my head again as I sat next to my two-year-old girl’s bed, holding her hand so she could settle down to sleep. I looked at her little self, and I realized that in a year, she progressed from a few baby babble words to commanding her siblings with the oratory skills of a tiny part-time dictator.
I wondered what she would say if I asked her that same set of questions, and then I wondered how the responses of my other kids would change as they grew and matured during a year’s time.
This morning, I dug out those interview questions again.
Remembering interviews from last year, my kids eagerly took turns receiving 10 minutes of Mom’s undivided, fully engaged time. Below are their responses: the sweet, the silly, and the surprisingly perceptive. For simplicity, I listed each child by age.
What was the happiest day of your life?
7: Days when I go shopping with you. And next year when you give me an interview, I’ll say when I got my ears pierced.
6: It’s hard to say. Like maybe the Christmas when Santa put up the train track in our log house.
3: My happiest day is hooking things together and unhooking them, and tying knots together now.
2: Cody. I love Cody. (her cousin)
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
7: Make Spot not roll in sheep poop.
6: Christmas to be in the summer everywhere, on our side of the world and the other side.
3: I could be mad. And I don’t know how to fly.
2: My brother’s bed. (New bunk beds arrived today.)
When were you most afraid?
7: I was kind of afraid to move, and going to kindergarten. The night before the first day of kindergarten, I was really afraid.
6: When a blackout happened and the TV just randomly shut off.
3: Bed and monsters…and tigers. That’s what I’m always afraid of.
2: Tractors scare me one time. Go home, tractor!
What do you want to do for a job?
7: I want to be an artist, and I also want to be a veterinarian because it looks like fun and every day you get to see an animal.
6: I want to be a lifeguard. Can lifeguards be a grownup?
3: I just don’t like doing my chores. I just like to play. Chore time is just stupid. I just want to play, play, play.
2: Cody. Hold him. Hold me also.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
7: My family and cousins.
6: Having a toy or a few toys.
3: I can’t live without my teddy bear. I just can’t even live without it.
2: I need girl. Girl, girl, girl.
Describe your perfect day.
7: I would go to the park, go to the Mississippi, go to the Hawaiian shaved ice place, maybe buy a girl puppy and get my ears pierced. And I would eat dumplings for dinner.
6: Have ice cream for breakfast, go to the St. Charles pool, have corn dogs for lunch and go back to the pool. Go home and have brunch for supper, and then stay up until midnight.
3: Hooking hooks onto my ropes and pulling trailers behind my trike with my hooks.
Who are your friends?
7: Claire, Julia, Audrey, and Indie.
6: I have lots. It’s hard to say just a few.
3: Katie. (his cousin) And sometimes I see my friends at Early Childhood.
2: Cody, my friend. Nathan.
What was Mom like as a child?
7: Um, fun? Wild!
6: I don’t know. Can you give me a hint?
3: You liked to do the same stuff that I like to do. Did you like to do that stuff when you were my age?
2: Like me? Slide down. Hold me!
What does Mom do when you’re not around?
7: Types her articles and goes shopping sometimes.
6: Do the laundry or clean the dishes.
3: Usually you need me badly and you don’t know where to find me.
2: Mommy wake me up.
What’s Mom’s favorite food?
3: Stuff that has ketchup on it like hot dogs.
(all sound suspiciously like their own favorite foods)
What’s Mom really good at doing?
7: Being a mom. A good runner, too.
6: Taking care of the kids and making meals like Chinese.
3: Cooking and giving me anything I want for breakfast.
What’s Mom really bad at doing?
7: Not being a mom.
6: I don’t know…but I think you’re not very flexible at doing stretches.
3: Getting stuff right or wrong. Knowing which way to go in the car.
2: Making clean table. (She’s right.)
What’s Mom’s favorite place?
6: St. Charles pool and the ice cream shoppe.
How do you know your mom loves you?
7: Because she gives me hugs and kisses every night and gives me breakfast.
6: She kisses me and hugs me goodnight.
3: Because I love her by giving kisses and hugs.
If you have kids around, please just sit down one-on-one and do this. For me, I realize all over again how much I love seeing how my kids’ minds’ work. The interviews are also my reminder that the simple act of truly listening makes anyone just light up.
Part of me wishes I could fast forward and interview my kids in ten years and see how much they change, and how much of their personalities remain just the same. Will my curly-haired boy still happily ramble on indefinitely about any subject? What will they recall as the happiest day a few years from now? Will they still want hugs and kisses every night? I’m not sure, but I am pretty sure that my son will no longer want to marry me. I’m okay with that.