Early in the project I was talking through my ideas with my kids. They don’t know a lot about content creation or marketing, but they’re pretty honest and they tell me what they really think.
They asked if they could be on an episode and I thought, of course! It’s a parenting podcast, but one with a broad interest in parenting as an enormous concept. And, while we focus mostly on moms, we’re bringing other demographics – dads, grandmas, non-parents, foster/adoptive parents – into the mix as well. So why not kiddos?
Then, last Thursday night, I realized I was going to have to interview my kids.
Good God, you guys. I used to dread interviewing kids for the newspaper. They’re tough nuts to crack, they need really concrete questions to which they can give super concrete answers, and even then it’s a crap shoot. I was usually happy as hell to walk away from an interview with an elementary school aged child with one or two full quotes and enough basic information to sketch something out that would fit enough column inches to make it worth the time.
And my kids are no different. Thursday night I attempted to interview them face-to-face, individually, at my desk.
But there is a lot to look at during an interview. The microphone itself – a flat black Yeti the size of sixteen horse pills – is intimidating, I think. Then on my laptop screen Audacity is recording a waveform, the microphone levels are being monitored, so there’s a constant green-to-yellow-to-red bar at the top going bananas. And they could not focus on anything.
I could barely get an answer out of them, and when I could, it wasn’t a straight one.
Friday, night, though, they spent the night with a grandma so I called them on the phone to see if we could make any improvements that way. And it worked. I know the phone audio isn’t the greatest, but hopefully it’s not too bad.
So what point did I want to make with this episode?
My kids are always down to chit chat. A lot of the time, there’s so much going on every minute that it’s beyond difficult to really engage in a conversation with them about Minecraft, even, Let alone the state of our relationship.
But I’m not one hundred percent present most of the time. I’ve got a full-time job, a house that really requires two adults to maintain, a coal furnace that has me running in and out to dump coal and lifting around 200 pounds of coal into the hopper a day, 30 chickens, seven ducks, a coop to muck, a car that needs an oil change bad, and then audio editing. I’m almost never laser focused on what they’re saying to me.
But I’ve always talked to my kids. Always. When they were babies I’d get side eye all day as I walked them through the grocery store, narrating the trip. I’ve always spoken to my kids pretty much how I speak to everyone. I use big words, and if they don’t understand them they don’t hesitate to ask for definitions. And I never hesitate to provide them. My kids know a lot of things, and have a vocabulary that standardized testing (not often we praise the good old ST, eh), has ranked in the highest percentiles for their developmental ages.
They’re smart kids, they’ve got a hell of a grasp on sarcasm and humor, and they have no trouble expressing themselves when they choose to. But when they don’t choose to is usually the time I need to be worried about them. So I do try and make time to ask them about the state of our relationship.
It’s easy. It’s quick – this episode is a half hour and only about fifteen minutes of it is their interview. As Emily said in her episode, the stuff our kids need from us, that intensely quality time – it’s not a lot in terms of actual minutes spent. But it’s by far the most important.
The girls knew that this was an interview, and that it was going on the internet, for anyone in the whole world to hear, so that led to a bit of grandstanding in places. The act of observing a thing for sure changes that thing, which in this case is my daughters’ behavior.
They’re doing a little bit of showing off, but for the most part it was a good interview. It’s really easy for me to slip into a casual conversational banter with my kids, I think because it’s just what I’ve always done with them, whether they could respond to me verbally or not.
So I’d like to invite everyone to sit down and have a conversation with their kids, in the new year. And if you don’t have kids, just make an effort to have an interaction with a chatty kiddo when you’re out and about (legally, please, for the love of God and all that’s holy). Those chatty outgoing kids are the best because they won’t miss a beat and you’ll be able to be completely yourself around them. It’s a really cool interaction to have, if you’ve not yet experienced it. Kids’ brains and imaginations are beautiful, and we need that flexible level of thinking in our lives. I promise you.
Alright kiddos. Good talk.