Those of you who don't know the pleasure -- and yes, pain -- of a child who never has an unexpressed thought may not understand this post. You'll be thinking, "Big deal, she's listening to her kid." But I've talked with enough moms who have chatty children like mine who understand that while communication is lovely and it's amazing to get a peek into their brains at work, it also can wear a person down. However, since Kyle and I had a week of one-on-one time, I've had a lot of time to listen.
Chapter 1 -- Teaching, and learning
Spending time in the pool with Kyle has given me the opportunity to teach him some water skills. He's gotten very good in the water, and because of that he enjoys playing in the pool a lot more. I know that when Amanda comes back, she's going to be impressed.
I thought that I'd challenge him to see if he'd try a flip, using the noodle. He was game to try it, and after a time or two, he was doing pretty well. I was helping him perfect his form, and then -- YES! -- he did it. A joyful chirp rose from my chest.
Kyle swam over to the step. "Some laughs are when you're really happy. At first I was trying not to be offended, but my mind figured out what you were doing, and that was okay."
Yes, it was one of those laughs full of surprise and excitement. When I saw him flip, it just bubbled up as laughter should. That's a good thing about a kid who expresses his thoughts, and a good thing about listening to them. I never would have thought he'd think I was laughing at him. I'm glad his mind figured it out correctly.
Chapter 2 -- I become a video game
"Get on my back," I said.
"Okay. You'll be the taxi. Take me over there to Italy."
We went back and forth on transcontinental journeys between Europe and various Northeastern states a few time. Then Kyle "paid" me and tipped me, and asked which upgrade I wanted. "You can get the exercise room, or the waiting lounge."
"I don't know if I want an upgrade."
"You have to. See that guy over there. He's steaming mad waiting.
Chapter 3 -- More pool games
When I'm tired of playing pool games, Kyle makes up dives and I rate him.
"That was great. A 10!" (and I'm not always so generous).
I explained that 10 is the highest.
"Awww! But remember, I gave you a 15 on Motherhood."
Oh he's learned the you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours theory, at such a young age.
When we were talking in the car earlier, I used a tip I learned from Grow the Tree You Got about curbing sibling rivalry, in which you ask them to rate (please check out my review on this book about raising adolescents. I loved it!). I turned it around and asked him to rate me as a mom on a scale of 1 to 10. And he did indeed give me a 15. No room for improvement at all. I'll have to ask him again in a few years when he is an adolescent.
Chapter 4 -- Sharing his interests
After swimming, I require the drippy kids to sit and dry off some. This is a great way for us to get some summer reading minutes in. Kyle has found quite a few books that he's enjoyed.
"I put a bookmark in the book for you too. We can have two bookmarks and read it at the same time. I want you to read it. It's really good."
He's seen Amanda and I doing this, and I love that he wants me to read what he's loving.
Chapter 5 -- Expressing his creativity
Rapping, after our muffin tin lunch:
I told you that wasp wouldn't go away
See, it's over in that muffin tray
Now it's above your head
So don't hesitate or you might get dead.
He's very talented. He's always making up songs, sometimes about his love for his mother, or his love for God, or sometimes about wasps. It's actually fairly impressive, and it's one of those skills that he will develop in life or if it will fall by the wayside.
Chapter 6 -- The post-swimming bath
"Hey, mom -- You know if you tried to cut a wood house right in half, that wouldn't work. You can't just go right through the plumbing and everything."
Remember what I said about no thought unexpressed? A follow-up question about the wood house ("You mean like a log cabin?") told me that he was thinking of our old house, which is different from our new brick house. And obviously he was thinking about plumbing because he was in the bath.
Epilogue -- 10 years later
Kyle is busy with science and sports, friends and video games. He's tan and thin, long and lanky -- similar to his 7-year-old self with a little more height and breadth. He doesn't beg his mom to swim anymore. He still likes to swim, but usually his girlfriend and their friends are the ones out there with him. He especially likes it when his big sister comes home for a visit and joins them.
Sometimes he talks. And when he does, I listen.