My son and I had special time once a week for many years. He always wanted to do the same thing–go to the mall. We would play at the arcade, have an ice cream and come home. It seemed I was always struggling to get him to tell me more about his thoughts and feelings. I had some success, but not as much as I wanted, and chalked this up to him being a boy.
One week, a good friend of mine died and I decided to not speak for a few days. I told my son that we could go to the mall and have our special time if he wanted, but I would not speak. He said OK that he wanted to go anyway. We began the drive and about 5 minutes down the road, he began to talk to me about pretty deep stuff. Like how he felt when his brother was born, and what he thinks about god and other people’s ideas about religion. He told me how he struggled when his father and I separated but now how he has worked it out so it is ok. He talked about school, friends, teachers, in great detail. I said nothing.
We cruised the mall, he did not want to play games, we just walked and he talked in a really relaxed way. We drove home with him talking and when we got home he asked me not to get out of the car yet. He talked another 20 minutes and then kissed me goodnight and said he was tired. I sat in the car alone after he left, quite stunned and realized that the only thing different this week was me. I did not encourage, lead, explain, teach, guide, criticize him in any way and he was able to pour his mind out in an easy stream of talking about his life and his world.
Now that he is an adult, we often laugh about that time and sometimes when he feels I am not listening he will remind me of that night and it is our signal for me to just listen.
-Certified Instructor Emmy Rainwalker
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