You’ve been out all day, doing whatever you do, and you come home to “What did you do today? Where did you go today? Did you have lunch with anyone? What did Sandy say to you? etc., etc., etc.” (as Yul Brynner used to say). Not only can this barrage of questions be tiring, it’s also overwhelming, when you’re your first coming together with someone after a period of not seeing them.
Let’s take a walk in your great-grandchildren’s shoes for a while. They’ve been at their “work” all day, and you drop in to see them or pick them up from school. The first thing out of your mouth is “how was school?” and their answer is “fine”. Then you ask, “What did you do today?” and they answer “same as always”. If you’re in their shoes, you’ll have just been through a long day at school, and you’re ready to acclimate to the next part of your day, and you’re hammered with too many questions. You turn off, and give short, pat answers.
Here’s a different approach: “Hey, glad to see you….how was school?” “Fine.” Then it can be your turn to go in a different direction, not ask anything of them, and say “Glad you had a “fine” day. You know, on my drive over here today, I saw some ducks crossing the road near that house with the pond. There was a mother and six little ducklings. The traffic stopped to watch them cross. It was so cute”. This has given the child a chance to shift gears and let you know if she/he is ready for a conversation. Sometimes, silence is golden.
Children, like adults, need quiet time, with no conversation and no questions. We need to learn to respect children’s need for peace and quiet, and when they are ready, you can be sure your great-grandchildren will engage you in dialogue.
Giving children the space and opportunity to talk about what’s important to them is an art. Each child is different and one size doesn’t fit all. With children gravitating more and more toward their own or adult’s electronic devices (phones, iPads, etc), many have less time to express their thoughts and feelings. The challenge for us is finding the time and place to let great-grandchildren express their concerns, joys, jokes and ideas.