The time was 10 pm.
By this time, teeth should be brushed, drinks of water administered and any last minute stalling by the kids should come with a reminder that Christmas is just around the corner.
Yet here I sit at the table with a semi-cold plate of chicken nuggets wondering if they were the dinosaur shaped ones I sampled at Costco. But I didn’t have to time make a determination because my two daughters decided to join me in the kitchen.
Luca pulled up a chair to one side while Anna did the same on the other. They sat on their knees and leaned as far in to the table as possible or about six inches from my ears.
And then the questions came as if I were being interrogated by the TSA.
“Dad, why are you eating so late?”
“Dad, ask us some math questions?”
“Dad, what is your worst favorite color?” (I never know how to answer this one)
“Dad, will you make us some popcorn?”
“Dad, when are you going to put up the Christmas lights?”
“Dad, can we get a real tree this year?”
“Dad, dad, dad! Tell us the story of the three guys!”
The questions come so fast and furious that it’s impossible to keep up. I can’t help but think it’s now after 10 pm and they should be in bed. It’s a school night. I should put a stop to the questions and send them to bed with a hug and kiss.
But tonight I sat at the table and listened to my daughters. Over time, the questions directed at me turned into them sharing stories about school. This doesn’t happen often. It’s not uncommon for my inquiries about school to be met with a shrug of the shoulders and a “it’s fine”.
I was surprised to hear Luca tell me how much she enjoys math. Anna also enjoys math but not as much as dancing and why should school get in the way of a little dancing?
“You’ll be 43 on your birthday which is a prime number”, said Luca.
And with that observation, these two silly and vibrant daughters of mine skipped off to bed.
Next time I’m frustrated with the level of interaction I’m having with my children, I need to remember this evening. How they approached me. On their terms and at a time that was right for them. I didn’t try to force anything. Instead I listened. I never look back and wish I’d talked more and listened less.
Next time I’ll consider making popcorn. And maybe Anna will dance for us.