Last week, Lucy came to me when she was getting ready for bed and told me she needed to talk.
“It’s something I don’t want to talk about in front of the boys,” she said.
After the babies were tucked in, I went with Lucy to her room where we stretched out on her bed, side by side.
“What’s up?” I asked.
For over an hour, she peppered me with questions. We talked about school and boys and brothers and friends and teachers. We talked about all the worries of her nine year old heart. In the grand scope of things, the things we discussed were inconsequential. And I won’t deny I had a moment or two when I was itching to get on to other things. But I reminded myself that while third grade crushes might be inconsequential, Lucy is not. She’s not long off from being a teenager and I expect if I have any hope of her wanting to talk to me then, I probably ought to be willing to talk to her now. So we talked. And talked. And talked, until well after 10 PM.
(One of the things Lucy asked me at the end of our conversation was if I’d named a character after her yet. There is a brother named Sam in the first book, and Henry is the name of my main character in my current work-in-progress, so the other kids are itching to see their name in print as well. I told her I was working on it. The evidence is in the notebook where I draft chapter outlines and ideas. Lucy’s name is all over it. Except, after writing the chapters that included her name, I totally changed my mind and took it out. The character that was using her name turned out to be more of a troubled teenager than I expected and to call her Lucy felt all kinds of wrong. I get it’s fiction. I also get that Lucy will undoubtedly have her own set of challenges when she’s a teenager. But it felt a little too ominous to write about a troubled Lucy. The struggling teen is yet unnamed and Lucy will have to wait until I find a better place for her name to fit.)
It was late when Lucy finally went to bed, but I’m still not sorry about our conversation. I expect there aren’t parents anywhere that would ever say they regret time taken to talk to their kids. (Although… Sam is in a stage right now where he can talk about his favorite computer game for HOURS… H…O….U….R….S….. without stopping. I’M. NOT. KIDDING. I’m good. I listen and nod and smile even though I only understand about 20% of what he says. But OH. MY.)
I have a new respect for my own parents these days. I remember the things I obsessed over as a kid. They must have been patient because I don’t ever remember thinking they didn’t have time to listen to me ramble. (As well as they handled it, maybe this afternoon when Sam starts in on the latest and greatest of his gaming, I’ll just have him call his Grandma…)
And so I remind myself today that while I may not remember all that my children ever say, my hope is they will remember that I listened.