How was your day?
Every day since he’s been old enough to answer, I’ve been asking my son that question when I pick him up at the end of the day. Usually, I get a relatively enthusiastic “good” and not much else. Sometimes, he’ll offer a little more: a few details about kindergarten drama in the cafeteria, maybe a tidbit about how he and his buddies dug a hole on the playground big enough for them to fit inside (that explains the grubby, little fingernails!).
Occasionally, I get a little chatterbox who tells me about games, teachers and stories from his day that quite honestly, don’t even make sense to me. Other times, he seems tired and annoyed. And typically, he doesn’t ask me anything in return.
It would be nice to be asked how I’m doing, but it makes sense that he’s not asking me. He’s 6. I’m the mom. I’m there, doing my job. The what, why and how of that is not of much concern. The concept that I am my own person with feelings and experiences sometimes goes unnoticed by my little guy. But, as many times as I’ve asked, with all of the time and attention I’ve devoted to him, it would be nice to get a question back. “How are you, Mom?” would be wonderful. Not every day, just once in a while.
Yesterday, I didn’t have the best day. I was plagued by some sort of achy, tired, “I must be coming down with something” feeling all day. After dragging my feet at work, I dragged myself to pick up my son at summer camp. I was happy to see him, of course, but knew I would be met with the never-ending energy and questions that are typical of a 6-year-old. (Where does he come up with the endless amount of questions? Maybe the apple does not fall far from the tree!)
Sure enough, there was the barrage of queries. “Can we go outside?” “Can I play Angry Birds on your phone?” “Can I go on the computer?” “Can I have some chips?” Can you open this?” “What does this say?” What does this mean?” “Where’s the purple marker I used yesterday?”
I sighed, sank into the couch, and did something I don’t often do. I turned on PBSKids and said, “Oh, look. Wild Kratts is on.”
And then…silence. Suddenly, I felt the peace I was longing for.
A few hours later, I got ready for bed early and settled into a chair in our living room. My son asks that I sit in it every night because the angle is such that he can see me from his bed as he goes to sleep. I moaned a little as I tried to get comfortable and closed my eyes. Then it happened.
From the darkness of his room, he said, “Mom, are you feeling ok?” I said, “No, I feel kind of yucky.” His answer was, “Well, I sure hope you feel better soon. I love you.” I looked at my husband, and he smiled at me. I got a little choked up but managed to respond with a “Thanks, buddy, I love you, too.”
Suddenly, I felt noticed, cared about and loved. And I realized that by my asking him the old “how was your day” routine everyday, I was showing him that I notice, care for, and love him. And, who knows, maybe that has helped him to learn to take the time to notice others and see how they are doing, too! It felt nice and motivated me to keep asking, even when the answer is, “fine,” “I don’t know,” or “nothing.”
“How was your day?” It’s such an easy way to show we care about others!