Tonawanda News


September 16, 2013

DOUBLE TROUBLE: The secret lives of kindergartners

Tonawanda News — In my 16 years in journalism — more if you count college — many of them as a features or education reporter, I’ve interviewed hundreds of children. I’ve learned the tricks. I’ve learned what not to do. I’ve coaxed quotes from toddlers; I’ve sat down with teenagers. If I may brag just a little bit, I think I’m actually pretty good at it. 

But after that time, I may have finally met my match:

In my younger son.

As I write this, it’s the first day of kindergarten. Standing at his school, I was nearly tackled in a bear hug, then strolled with this beaming new kindergartner through the doors and headed for home. I looked down at my little boy, handsome in his new school clothes, backpack slung over his shoulders.

”So what did you do on your first day of school?”

He considered the matter. “I learned ... all sorts of stuff, really.” (He even sounds older, I thought.)

”What sorts of stuff?”

That earned me the barest eye roll. “I just told you. All sorts of stuff!”

Ah. I leaned on the lessons of 16 years. “What was your favorite part?”

”Mmm. All of it.”

”But what did you do?”

”All sorts of stuff!”

He was happy with his first day. I let it go, with a mental note to try later when the post-school bounciness wore off. It was hard to not to feel challenged, but treating your son like a hostile interview subject is probably not going to win you mother-of-the-year honors.

If I’m honest with myself, though, it’s not just about the professional challenge on a personal level. It’s the fact, hard to face, that my son — OK, my baby, my youngest — now has a huge part of his life that I just can’t see. Not unless he tells me about it. And that’s completely and totally up to him. 

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