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After school conversations


It’s a four year old conversation. Our boy was in Grade 2. His teacher was asking the class to prepare a short talk every two weeks.

“So,” I ask. “What are you going to do for your school topic talk this week?”

“What I would do if I ruled the world,” he responds.

“Oh, I see.”

It’s a big job and he had never, until then, shown an interest in taking on grand projects. Thinking he’d provide free chocolate to all his classmates, I ask “And what would you do, love?”

“I’d stop all the wars,” he replies solemnly.

2014 was the year of the ice bucket challenge, #bringbackourgirls and the FIFA World Cup.  It was also the year two Malaysian Airline planes fell from the sky and ISIS swept through Iraq and Syria. In Sydney, we looked on in horror as one mad man terrorised hostages at the Lindt Café in the middle of the CBD. Our son must have quietly watched and absorbed it all.

Our after school chats can reveal much. More often than not he talks about computer games or the latest Pokémon trading cards. But, sometimes, he surprises us.

I have started to collect snippets of our conversations. Preserving them before they disappear. Sometimes he’s funny. Other times he can be insightful.

After picking him up after school last year, our boy announced, “Mum, I am going to trade my three powerful fire Pokemon evolutions for one Pikachu card.”

I was annoyed and dismayed. These trading cards aren’t cheap and you are never guaranteed powerful cards in a pack. I have watched his disappointment and joy as he painstakingly collected his deck over the years. Now he was telling me he was going to give away not one, but three in his collection.

“Why??” I ask.

“My friend is making a fire deck and I want to help him out.”

I was not happy.

“No. This is Pokémon. You are supposed to make shrewd trades and build a powerful deck so that you can crush your opponent. You can’t be a nice guy about this. None of this namby-pamby I’m going to look out for my friend’s business.”

He smiled. He was already old enough to know when to ignore my protests.

“Mum, I like my friend. He makes the worst trades and I want to help him out. Besides, I want to be a nice guy.

Fine,” I snap. “Be like that. But I am not going to subsidise your lost causes by buying new cards.

You donate to causes you believe in, don’t you, mum?

I did. The boy knew I did. And I had no suitable come back.

He laughed. He knew he’d won.

It has been a delight to see our son’s developing view of the world. Some people mark their children’s height on a wall. I’ve been capturing our conversations for a while and it has been fascinating to watch him grow.

I also know I am on borrowed time; that every conversation we have is one closer to him finding his own path away from his father and me. I can see his growing independence and I don’t think I’m quite ready to let him go.

Mitch Albom once wrote:

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them — a mother’s approval, a father’s nod — are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers…

It’s a little annoying to say the least, but I think there is some truth to Albom’s comment. There will come a time when our son will let us go. I’ll ask him questions and he’ll stop answering. There will be other friends to take our place. And for my sake as well as his, I’ve got to be ready.

Maybe one day he will start asking me questions instead. It would be nice to keep the conversation going.

via the Daily Post: Conversation

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April 2018
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