Jim and I pride ourselves on having excellent relationships with our teenaged sons. We all talk together, a lot. Unfortunately, every now and then our younger son J can’t get his entire thought out because he gets interrupted by our older son D (okay, and sometimes Jim and I). It’s very, very frustrating for him (understandably), which is why I make sure to make the most out of any time I can get alone with him. I ask him lots of questions that require essay-like answers and really LISTEN to him.
Like yesterday, for example. I had to take him to the doctor because his right eyelid was swollen up to about twice its normal size (no worries: just a sty and it’s much better today!).
We were sitting in the Mickey Mouse exam room (oh, the indignities of a sixteen-year-old having to go to his long-time pediatrician until he’s an actual adult), waiting for the doctor. Our phones were put away (for once) and together we analyzed the decor of the room.
We were very preoccupied with the wallpaper border.
“How often does Mickey wear a YELLOW shirt,” J asked.
“I’m not sure. Like, NEVER?” I replied. “Really, what should’ve happened was that they put Mickey in his red shirt and switched his red background with Goofy’s purple background. That would’ve made more sense. And PLUTO didn’t even MAKE the wallpaper border. What’s up with that??”
And then? Commentary on the stenciled purple blocks that held silhouettes of Pluto himself, on the lower parts of the wall. Silhouettes EXCEPT for his eyeballs, which made for a very creepy Pluto.
Looking at the framed poster on the wall, J asked me, “What’s that ‘duck chick’s’ name?”
“That DUCK CHICK?” I roared with laughter. “That’s Daisy! And look at poor Clarabell Cow in the corner. She’s at the movie with the rest of them but really doesn’t deserve to be there.”
It was one of those “nothing” conversations that meant absolutely, well, nothing, but in that moment helped to connect us.
It reminded me of my own childhood pediatrician’s office, one whose exam rooms didn’t have such “elaborate” decor schemes but still provided fodder for conversation. They had popcorn ceilings, and I can remember as if it were yesterday that every SINGLE time my mom took me to the doctor between the age of my first memories and eleven years old (when we moved away), I would look up and say, “There must be a million dots all over this ceiling!” and then my mom and I would laugh our heads off together. I remember waiting for the right moment to say my line, trying to catch my mom off guard. Such a little thing from my childhood, yet it sticks in my brain. (Amazing, since I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday.)
Where was the last oddly-located conversation YOU had with your child?