Pulling Teeth

As a teacher, I’ve had parents tell me, My child tells me everything that happens at school. They go through their entire day A-Z.

I’ve also had parents tell me the opposite, I have a child of very few words. It’s like pulling teeth to get something about their day.

I’m definitely yanking teeth with Pup, my seven year old. It’s a tricky art that I wish I didn’t have to learn or practice. I just want my kid to open up already.

Sometimes, I think he’s just tired. I get it, the school day is long. I don’t always feel like talking either. But other times, I worry there’s something more going on. He holds everything so damn tightly. Isn’t that lonely and exhausting?

It is for me.

I get a lot of rejects when I say to Pup, Tell me about your day.

MOM! He barks. You KNOW I HATE that question! His harsh answer always bites. I wonder if there will be a day when I just give up.

Today I rework the question a little. Tell me one good thing that happened today.

One good thing that happened is I finished my United States map. Weird, Pup actually sounds willing and little bit eager to share. One not so good thing that happened is no one wanted to play with me in the gym.

I’m shocked by this unprompted reveal. Do I dare pull for more information or do I put my pliers away? I can’t help myself, I want more teeth. Did you ask anyone if they wanted to play with you?

Sort of. I walked around the gym and shouted, Does anyone out there want to play with me? I squelch my giggle thinking of him hollering his open invitation. I squelch my heartbreak too. Why is it so scary for Pup to ask someone directly?

That does sound like a not so good part of the day, I say. We are quiet together for awhile. I decide not to give Pup any wise suggestions on how to find someone to play with. What I find myself wanting to say is that I know what it’s like to feel alone.

Mom, can I have a hug?

Of course you can. I kneel down and face him. My gosh, he’s still really little. Then I open my arms and do the only thing there is to do, wait.

5 thoughts on “Pulling Teeth”

  1. Wow. This resonated with me so much. My son also doesn’t share about his day. He always seems happy about school, but I sure wish he would share. I like how you changed the way you asked the question to focus his answer more. Hope you continue to hear from him and get those hugs, too!


  2. Oh, he is so precious and little. What a beautiful moment you have shared with us. I loved this line especially, “Do I dare pull for more information or do I put my pliers away?” – isn’t that the dilemma we face as parents? Thank you for this sharing!


  3. I was a kid who said my day was fine and that was about it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to my mom and dad. I just didn’t think there was things that stuck out. Even as an adult, I can have short conversations with my mom if my week hasn’t been that interesting. But yesterday, we chatted for an hour because there is a lot going on with my job and cat. I think asking a specific topic is a great way to get something more out of your child. I’m glad he gave his own additional response as well


  4. Yes, it’s hard, I had one son who was willing to share pretty much anything and another who just grunted and said even less than your son! It does take all sorts and some children talk and some don’t. I’m glad you could get something out of your son with a different approach, even though it sounded a bit sad.


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