SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 55: “My Kids Like To Talk To Me”

For the past 55 days I’ve openly written about my life, my journeys and the people I meet. For four-weeks I have been especially exposed with so much time away from my family, so today I have embraced time with my daughter, sunrise to sunset, and it’s been great.

One more level to know about myself and my family, we are home schoolers.

First off, I need to dismiss one myth: my girl is well-socialized, well-adjusted and gives us all the same homework grief that all of us parents have come to embrace. Why do I share this? Bear with me, it leads in to how I meet my new friend today.

Every week there is a group of home school families that gather at a local park. Lots of kids, lots of extra curricular activities and lots of parents gathering together.

Here is the truth to the socialization issues of home school families. The kids are fine. It’s the parents who need to meet people. Many of us spend incredible amounts of time preparing lessons, taking workshops and being teachers as well as parents. It’s not abnormal that some of us are a bit twitchy, having the tendency to be found isolated, heads buried in the I hope I can keep up with my kids sand trap.

Knowing that, next time you see one of us sort of twitching, buy us a Starbucks, might just be lack of sleep. If that does not work, run!— there are a few crazy home schoolers out there, too. Best to avoid them. (I’m sure I’ll take a few hits for this comment).

So today, not only I am getting to have daddy/daughter time, I get to talk to adults outside of my professional circle— something that I need to do more often. I see why park day has become a coveted activity for my wife. She deserves it, being much deeper in the teaching trenches than I.

Its [12:30]sh, my daughter and a group of kids kneeling on a community gym stage, all deeply involved in French class. How cool is this, my girl is involved, having fun, learning, and I find a little time to chill. This is sanctuary.

I’m not alone, the gym is filled with small cliques of parents and others finding their own chill space. Most of them are familiar to me. Some I’ve spoken to, others I avoid and some are close friends. As I enjoy my moment of relaxation, I notice a new face, and thinking of myself as a self-appointed member of the welcoming committee, I reach out a hand of fellowship.

They say that water seeks its own level. I find this true in meeting my new home schooling friend, Lena.

Turns out that not only do we have the home schooling link, but she and her family are industry folk, her husband being an established lighting designer and gaffer.

We talk of business for a while and that leads us into topics of family and the raising of our children. Lena has it down and her priorities are in place. She gives me a brief history, “I worked for years as a dietician at,” (she unintentionally drops a few names as to where she has worked, and I realize she is a seriously educated and experienced professional) “but after my first son was born I knew what I needed to do.”

She promptly left her career and dedicated her life to full-time motherhood.

When I first invite her to 365, she is unsure. “I’m not that interesting, compared to some of the other people in your blog.” The furthest from the truth in my opinion. “365 is about everybody, and everybody has a message,” I assure her.

Lenathinks for a moment, “You don’t have a home schooling mom, do you?” And being a home schooling family myself, I am doubly motivated to publish her words. “I do not have any homeschooling mothers, and your words matter.” She accepts.

Question One: “What words of counsel do you have for my audience?”

I love her response, it is so global and all parents should take heed.

“Spend as much time with your kids as you can, it goes fast. Enjoy it while it lasts. Slow down and listen to them, not half listen… really listen.”

I swallow hard on that comment. My life is a sprint, not complaining about it, I love the pace. Yet I know her statement deeply reflects my mind-set. Having a home office is a double-edged sword. It’s great to be close to the family and home, but at times it does seduce me away from family reality. We do have a school room set up. Still there are times when my daughter will walk in during business hours with a simple question. And although embarrassed to admit, I half listen. Lena, thanks for the pointer. Next time, no big deal to stop for a minute and fully focus on her question. Everything always works out and I’m sure a short break will not bring the crumble my business. I challenge all of us to do the same when we can.

Lena goes on, “My kids like to talk to me, it’s an open-ended dialogue. I’ve learned to not dismiss their thoughts or try to redirect them into what I want to hear.”

Now, I think I’m a good dad. My girl loves me, I love her and I do my best to be a pretty good listener. And having a female child, I’ve learned to listen a lot. Ladies, you know what I am talking about. But this dismiss thing? It goes beyond Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars. We’re talking about my kid. Again Lena’s council hits hard. Next time I’m exhausted, and want to go to bed, I’m going to think twice before I redirect my kids question to support my sleeping needs. It’s about her, not me, at that moment.

Lena’s words are truly global. Not just for home schoolers, or families with kids in school. Council that applies to my 8-year-old or your teen.

At the beginning of my talk with Lena, she says, “I’m not that interesting.”

Lena, I disagree. Your words strike deep and are meaningful. Your calling is grand. Parenthood is a most noble of acts and you are at the top of your game. Thanks for the Dad check.