A few years ago you could find me jet setting around the Hawaiian islands. Sounds glamorous, right? I thought it would be too when I was assigned that part of the country as my territory for work. But after bypassing the gorgeous beaches, to instead sit in conference rooms all day, I realized traveling for work wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
And it wasn’t just the red eye flights or time change that got old. What kept eating away at me as I would board yet another flight, was the time I needed to make up for once I arrived home. During the couple of days that I was gone, my son had grown. I don’t mean physically—although I am sure that is true based on the amount of clothing we go through—but his taste, perspective on life, his hopes, his routines, and dreams had changed. The feeling that I was very obviously out of the loop was crushing.
One not so wonderful day, I had come home from a longer than usual trip and Gavin was set on helping me to understand the errors of my decision with an epically long silent treatment. He was taking the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all,” mantra to heart. That was accentuated with surprisingly poignant clipped criticism about how I wasn’t doing things the way Daddy does them. It really felt that I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes when all I wanted was to be near him, spend time with him, and love him.
I, too,was feeling the pain of being away from my son and guilt for missed opportunities to have bath time or snuggle him as we read together at night. We were both mourning the time we were separated, but in different ways.
Eventually, I was forgiven (mom does a happy dance) although it was usually just in time for me to head to the airport and once again restart the cycle. I never knew how mean 3 year olds can be until this time in our lives. After the silent treatment, there was usually a window where things would relax- I am no fool and saw this as an opportunity to make amends. My favorite time to reestablish our connection was in the car or during bath time, as I would look forward to these moments because it was just us and I had the chance to explore this person I adore all over again. Turns out no matter what we did, we did it together and that meant more to him than anything else.
I’ve found similar opportunities to reconnect with my son over the years and each time we do I feel more alive than ever. One of the easiest things to do when I feel a need to refresh my bond with Gavin is to ask him a few simple (and fun) questions.
Here are my favorites (along with my son’s responses):
Me: If you had children, what would their names be? Why do you like that name? If you had another child, what would his or her name be?
Gavin: Jules because it is something of a rarity and Zain because he is my cousin
Me: What would you like to be when you grow up?
Gavin: A ninja under the cover of being a paleontologist
Me: What do you especially like about yourself?
Gavin: That I am super fast and sweet
Me: What makes a great day?
Gavin: Playing with my friends
Me: What is your favorite activity
Gavin: Snuggling with Mama (cue heart melting!)
These are particularly fun questions because over time, some change and some stay the same. This gives me the ability to dig in further by asking follow up questions about what inspired the shift over time and acknowledge that I remembered his answers from before, thus confirming that his words are important, that he is important.
I love what a great little sponge my son is, soaking up all of the information he receives throughout the day and how that information shapes who he is and who he is becoming.