Tuesday, February 19, 2013

21 Questions to Ask Your Kids


Long before blogging was a thing, I was “blogging” with pen and paper. I remember receiving my first diary as a gift when I was six years old. It was light blue with a Holly Hobby-esque girl on the front complete with a Little House on the Prairie bonnet. It had a lock and key, which made me feel safe in telling it all my darkest secrets, which included everything from my parents’ fighting and eventual divorce, to my undying devotion to Ricky Schroeder and Punky Brewster.


I still keep dairies today; only I call them journals now (more grown up, don’t you think?). And, of course I blog. My blogs are public, but my journals are just for me. I am compelled, however, to share a snippet from a recent addition to my kids’ journals, which involves their answers to a list of 21 questions I posed.


I asked them these questions one at a time in private so that their answers were true and not skewed by the other. The questions involved their perceptions of me, but I went a step further to ask them the same question about themselves when it applied to see how self-aware they are at the ripe ages of seven and ten. Their answers were funny and insightful, and I’d like to share only a few of them below. 


1.     What is something Mommy always says to you?

a.    L: Don’t put your feet on the couch!

b.    M: Walk your dog!

2.     What makes Mommy happy? (Then ask them “What makes you happy?”—ask them their own answer to each question where it works to do so.)

a.    L (his answer for himself): Oatmeal cream pies and homework passes.

b.    M (her answer for herself): When we spend time together.

3.     What makes Mommy sad?

a.    L: When her kids get hurt.

b.    M: When I lie.

4.     How does Mommy make you laugh?

5.     What was Mommy like as a child?

6.     How old is Mommy?

7.     How tall is Mommy?

8.     What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?

9.     What does Mommy do when you’re not around?

a.    L: Work.

b.    M: She writes.

10.  If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?

a.    L: Helping and caring, or World’s Best Mom.

b.    M: Loving and caring and being a good mommy.

11.  What is Mommy really good at?

a.    L: Taking pictures.

b.    M: Snuggling.

12.  What is Mommy not very good at?

a.    L: Sleeping. (So true!)

b.    M: I don’t know. That’s hard. (That’s my girl! Ha!)

13.  What does Mommy do for her job?

14.  What is Mommy’s favorite food?

15.  What makes you proud of Mommy?

a.    L: You persevere on weekdays.

b.    M: When she accomplishes something.

16.  If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?

17.  What do you and Mommy do together?

18.  How are you and Mommy the same?

19.  How are you and Mommy different?

20.  How do you know Mommy loves you?

21.  Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?


This was a great experiment in perceptions. It turns out I am much harder on myself as a parent than my children are on me, as evidenced in question #10. Both kids gave virtually the same answer to that question even though they were asked in seclusion. As a mother you always wonder if the difficult things you do for your children come across as love. It was validating to know they do.


Also, I found out my children know me very, very well. They are observant like little New York Times reporters. In particular, my son’s answer to #15 blew me away. For a ten-year-old to say that he’s proud of his mother because “you persevere on weekdays” is just… profound.


I think most moms—no matter their profession, their responsibilities at work and at home or their personal stresses—persevere on weekdays. We just do what we can day in and day out to make the best decisions for our families and give them the best of ourselves while not losing who we are as individuals.


We persevere. We sacrifice. We balance it all like an elephant on a big red ball at the circus. I’m not sure most dads would be able to recognize and articulate that so accurately.


So here’s to you all you moms who persevere on weekdays! Ask your children these 21 questions and revel in their answers. Then come back and share some if you like!

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