Weekly Column: Mama has ways of making you talk

©Stephenie Freeman

Usually the Monkey is a very talkative little fellow. He’s the kind of kid that talks just to hear the sound of his own voice. His favorite thing is asking the same, exact question four times in a row. Yes, my little guy is a great talker. A good listener? Not so much.

The Monkey’s verbal skills are strong, but ask him a simple question like, “How was school today?” and he is at a total loss for words. If I want to learn anything about what my child does for the three hours that he is at preschool, I have to be like a “C.S.I.” detective or Magnum P.I. and try to solve the mystery of my son’s school day with the small samples of evidence that I find lying around.

A green, construction paper snake, cut out and glued to a stop sign? He must be learning about the letter “S”.

A little sand on the inside of his school shoes? He must have played in the sandbox during recess.

Orange and black paint under his finger nails? He must have done some kind of Halloween finger painting.

Just a little mama detective work usually gives me more information about my child’s school day than his words ever will. Even when I get creative with my questions, believing that the more specific I am with the questions the better answers I will be, he barely speaks.

“What was your favorite thing that you did at school today, Monkey?”

When I asked him that yesterday, he just stared at me, expressionless, just like he did when he was a newborn. Just two seconds before he was chatting up a storm, asking me over and over and over again when we were going to the pumpkin patch. Now he had unexpectedly gone mute. I tried again.

“Tell me something that made you smile today.”

“Uhhh…”

My line of questioning was obviously boring him. Not wanting to go down that same wordless road again I quickly ask, “Like something you did that made you really happy. Tell me about that.”

“Uhhh…RECESS!”

As long as there has been school, the favorite part of any kid’s school day has been recess. But when you are in preschool, it is probably the truth.

“Recess is fun. How was snack time today?”

“I sat next to Kelly. She’s my girlfriend now.”

I smiled. Just last week he was asking me to marry him and now this.

“She’s your girlfriend, huh? What did you and Kelly talk about during snack time?”

He doesn’t answer. Instead, he just gives me one of those “Mother, you’re bothering me” sighs and rolls his eyes. My 4-year-old has turned into a teenager before my very eyes.

“Why is she your girlfriend?” I repress my smile, anxiously anticipating his answer.

“Because she is.”

Exasperated by my line of questioning, he left me sitting alone at the kitchen table as he stomped upstairs to play in his room. Suddenly and without warning, I had a teenager walking around my house; a 4-year-old teenager that still wears Underoos, sleeps with his stuffed puppy named Woof Woof, and wants to be Batman for Halloween.

I was right back where I started. I still didn’t know much about what he was learning in preschool, but at least I did learn a little about my son’s developing social life, which left me with a whole new set of questions: Who is this Kelly person? How did they fall in love? Will she make a good daughter-in-law? Yes, this Mama has lots of questions. And somebody better start talking.

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