Lessons from my 12 Year Old
One afternoon a few weeks ago I was riding in the car and feeling pretty happy to have some alone time with my 12 year old son. I was looking forward to catching up a bit and hearing about how things were going with more than a sound bite answer. I was even hopeful that the conversation would go from there towards other interesting topics and it would be a well spent hour. As we began our drive home I glanced at my son and smiled. And then I began my connecting questions with several cued up in my mind. I waited for an answer or a smile. Maybe he is thinking. Cut to…silence. And one word monosyllabic answers. For each of my thoughtfully constructed questions. What???? I am a therapist and facilitate conversation for a living - I ask good questions and get open and thoughtful answers back. How was it that my son couldn’t see this and follow my caring prompts into these helpful and bonding conversations? So I sat there for a few moments and took a some deep breaths, trying to not let him know that I had some feelings about this. As I sat there contemplating my son said in his quiet nondescript manner - “you know mom, we don’t always have to talk”. Right. Deep breath. He is right. He really is right. I often feel like the best way to be with someone is to talk and ask questions and listen to their answers and just dive deeper in the questions and answers. I love a good conversation with people that I care about. This is good and an essential part of being in a close relationship. But what my son taught me on our car ride is that sometimes we can just be with each other. We can hold the space and experience whatever is happening together - where there is no role of parent or child, therapist or client, old or young. It is where we are just two people together with equal breath and equal worth. Sometimes that truly is more important than the words that we share. But I will keep trying with my son….he wont evade me forever! And hopefully the stars will align soon for when there is time and we both want to talk!
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Kimberly Simpson, a native of New Jersey, graduate of Wheaton College and resident of Nashville. Married and mother of three children. Lover of the ocean, gardens, yoga, cooking and travel.