Driving around town today, I had a chance to chat with my oldest daughter who decided to tag along. Well, I coaxed her into coming along to keep her younger brother from shoplifting every flavor of gum near the register.
The roads were covered in light snow which hid a thick layer of ice. That made for slow going, but also provided more time to listen to my daughter tell me about her favorite Christmas gifts.
“What were a few of the memorable activities you did this year?", I asked. I assumed she’d name the fancy birthday parties she attended. Or the times we took her shopping or to the movies. But I was wrong.
"I loved spending time at the beach with grandpa and grandma”
“I love when grandpa from Ogden comes to visit”
“I like when you take me to work”
“I like playing the piano with mom”
The answers she gave were not ones I would have guessed. They didn’t involve spending a lot of money or visiting exotic locations. When I reminded her of a field trip she took see how the salmon in the area spawn, she said, “That was fun, but I really liked playing games on your phone while sitting next to you on the bus”.
As good as it was to hear that from my daughter it made me contemplate how her view of what’s important doesn’t necessarily match what I thought. As a parent, I’m expect to know what’s best for my children. Or at least be in the ballpark. This was one of those times where my child’s answers surprised me.
At the very least, I should be listening to my children. And asking questions like I did today. How else will I know what’s important to them? Maybe they’d rather play a board game than go to the movies. I assumed the bigger the better. But that’s clearly not always true. Bigger doesn’t automatically mean more memorable.
Next time I won’t wait for icy roads to ask.