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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 24, 2005 / 21 Tishrei, 5766

Eavesdropping in the dark as son breaks speech barrier

By Marybeth Hicks



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I am standing in the hallway outside my son's bedroom door, listening. OK, I'm eavesdropping — but it's the only way I'm going to find out what's really going on in his life.

Not that I don't ask him directly. Every afternoon in the van at the end of a long school day, I pitch questions such as, "What made today fun?" or "What happened that surprised you today?"

I've read parenting articles that recommend asking open-ended questions rather than those that can be answered with a simple "yes," "no" or the most meaningless reply, "fine." So, instead, I ask things that should elicit a thoughtful response.

Unfortunately, the answer I get from my son these days is "nothing."

How is this possible? He leaves the house before 8 a.m. and doesn't climb into the car until after 3 p.m. It's inconceivable to me that in more than seven hours away from home, nothing happens that is even remotely remarkable.

Yet, ever since he started sixth grade, I've noticed a change in my son. The boy who can talk for seven or eight minutes without a breath about last week's soccer game or last night's Yankees game or the last frozen waffle in the refrigerator is suddenly mute about middle school.

When I ask, "Who did you hang with at recess?" the answer is, "My friends."

If I probe with, "Tell me about your classes," I get, "They're boring."

Once I asked, "So, do you have a girlfriend?"

He said, "No. Should I?" This felt like a conversational victory.

"Of course not," I said. "I just wanted to see what you'd say."

It seems unlikely that overnight my son has developed the male propensity for uncommunicativeness. His voice hasn't even started to crack, so it's too early for him to bury his face behind a newspaper and ignore the woman asking what he might like for dinner.

Besides, what I hear while standing in the dark is proof he's still talking. He's just not talking to me.

The whispered voices and muffled laughter are a sharp contrast to the busy, businesslike tone my son and I have adopted lately. Our time together is always short, often hectic — we interact in staccato, sharing cryptic messages to convey the bare essentials. It isn't talking so much as debriefing.

"Homework?" I ask.

"Science, lit and vocab," he says.

"Got your gym clothes?"

"In my locker."

"Trombone?"

"Music room."

"Peanut butter?"

"Turkey. Cheese. No mayo."

It's not unfriendly, but it lacks depth, that's for sure.

That is why I'm so surprised when I hear the conversation between my husband and our son.

I'm in his room, hustling him along because he is well past his 9:30 bedtime. I grouse about the clothes on the floor, reminding my son to bring his dirty laundry downstairs with him in the morning. I make a nagging comment about the pile of stuff on his desk and also about the unfinished book on his night table. I ask if he brushed his teeth and set his clock.

Then I tuck and kiss with maternal efficiency, already thinking about the chores that await me before I, too, can climb into bed.

Just before I leave the room, I pick a towel off the floor and head toward the bathroom to hang it on the towel rack. As I walk out, my husband comes in to say goodnight.

That's when I hear, "Sit down for a minute, Dad. I want to tell you about my day."

Unseen in the shadows, I freeze against the wall and listen to the animated, enthusiastic dialogue I have craved for nearly a month. Words tumble from my son's lips as he tells his dad everything I long to know about — the plot of the book he loves from literature class, a quiz he aced in math, a test to come in social studies — all the details that gave his day meaning and purpose. He did not do "nothing" but enjoyed a day filled with interesting ideas and challenging work.

When their conversation ends and their goodnights are said, I slip back into my son's room and sit on the edge of his bed. I tell him I understand why he likes to talk to his dad, who is a great listener.

I tell him that our relationship is changing as he grows, as it should. It's natural for him to be closer to his dad as he gets older.

I remind him that he still can talk to me, too, even if most of our time together is rushed, our speech the familiar shorthand of daily conversation.

He gives me a hug, and we choke back a few tears. We both know it's inevitable that he will become the man he's meant to be, not the little boy who'll live forever in his mother's heart.

Then again, in the still of darkness, I discover there is much this boy will tell me when I stop and really listen.

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 18 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


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© 2005, Marybeth Hicks