Interviews with G and her son K
This interview is with G, the mother of 11 year old K, who both live in Belgium. G answers first, then she gives a short introduction to K’s interview. I’d like to thank them both deeply, G for her honesty, and K for being willing and smart enough to speak to me in a language that is not his native tongue, and for mentioning poo!
• What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned so far with regards to communicating with your children?
Read him all i.e., his words are only part of a layer, don’t get stuck on what he says but read his whole being.
• When has it all gone horribly wrong for you, and what did you do to fix it?
My ego, my inside monster, my need to control or help or be right or teach or show the best way, my way, can blast it’s way through me as a huge temper tantrum and a shout which squashes and squeeze K into a tight ball. Shut up G. Listen. Go for a walk with or without him if the need to meddle becomes too strong to swallow.
• What is the personal trait you mostly rely upon in your relationships with your children?
Practising feeling my instincts and acting on them with my brain. The heart is a good ruler and the brain is great guide. Not the other way round.
• What is your greatest fear for future communications with your children?
On the understanding that K is sensitive, meaning that everything he is presented with and bumps up against goes in deep and far but because he is shy and not a chatter it can get stuck, risking going rotten and bad and eating him up from the inside. He needs to learn what his out lets are, whatever they are, as long as they let the crap out and the good can turn to good lessons learn. K and me go out a lot together. Walking, bike riding, running, to theatre, to see an art exhibition and mostly he’s pretty dry and unenthusiastic about all but it does the job and lets off steam. K and me got out together to make our relationship move. Sometimes is moves backwards, sideways and explodes and sometimes magically moves on.My greatest fear is that our relationship gets stuck. The ebb and flow is everything, there is no blue print, there is no other example to follow, although these roles that we are in are older than the mountains but is not a solid thing.
• Do you have strategy for this? If not, what would help?
I plan in my head for the day he refuses to go out with me. I train my brain to say that if I have passed on to him good handy tools with which to manage his anger, fear and joy then this is time to let go….. ah!….. and do the things that I have not done for years because I have so busy with K. K will come back, sporadically, and I need to now start practising enjoying seeing him grow up and away from us. Ideally. The reality is less hippy though.
• When has it all gone wonderfully right, and why do you think that was?
Doing nothing with him i.e.: sitting down with him, for as long as I can, without my agenda interrupting what happens next. He is the leader. Very different from being available. Hanging out and letting it all hang out until it stops, is doing nothing to make something happen. Being available is already doing something to make time for something to happen.
G adds: -
K is sensitive, which is deeply misunderstood. He was extremely shy, also very misunderstood. He’s not a chatterbox, and he’s a boy whose happy place is home, and at home, and in his home in his pyjamas with a book all day at home, inside, please….. or on stage. His language and academic learning skills are, well, less, while his emotional maturity, his social skills and practical side is maturing and blooming very nicely thank-you. He doesn’t eat sweets, but does like a good strawberry tart.
• What annoys you about how adults speak to you?
It’s a hard question for me, I can’t really think. Nothing really pops up in my head I don’t think there’s a lot really that adults annoy me most.
• How do you like a grown-up to be when they speak to you?
If they talk to me, I like them to be a bit interesting and a bit nice. That’s how I like it. Polite and kind. Some people in my school are not really like that.
• What is good and what is bad about being a child?
What I like is that you are still young and you can…ja…you have your whole life still, if you are young.
What I don’t like - you’re a bit small. I mean I’m 11 but I am smaller than some people that are 10 years old. But I’m not the smallest.
• Do you find it easy or difficult to talk with grown-ups, and why?
Sometimes I find it easy, sometimes not - ja, it hangs over but…sometimes with my mum it’s a bit hard to get a.. sometimes for me it’s hard for me to talk with grown-ups, but most of the time it’s easy to talk with grown-ups. It’s hard to explain actually. It’s hard for me to know why. When I meet a grown-up I know really quickly if I like them or not.
• Is it easy or difficult for you to speak with other children?
It’s quite easy to talk with other children, but of course there are some kids who are a bit mean to me, so sometimes I am able to play other games with other kids - but not football cos I’m not really into football. But yes - with other kids I like. I like playing handball, I think you call it in English, and I like basketball, and other games, but those are the two main ones. My friends and I, when we spend time together, we talk a lot.
• Do you think adults understand you? Why / why not?
I don’t think they understand me so well, because my English and my Flemish are not so good. Also I had something very bad wrong with my ears when I was younger. They understand me quite easily, but in the end it’s quite hard to understand me sometimes. It’s difficult to say why.
• What lesson would you like grown-ups to learn about how to talk to children?
Sometimes I have to show them with my hands or with my face what do I mean or stuff I am saying.
• Would you say you are a happy person?
I’m mostly a happy person. What makes me unhappy? If a person goes in front of me then I don’t really say to them, I just let them be or if I get a bit cross with them, I just walk away and play with someone else or talk with someone else.
What is the thing in the world that makes you feel best, what’s the thing that really makes you feel good?
If people are quite happy, and….I can’t really find the word…if people are like really patient with the world, like if they see something on the floor, like poo. Where we live there’s a lot of poo on the ground and we don’t like clearing it up. We think that if their dog poos on the ground then people should pick it up.
Make the world nice for one another.