Getting and Eight-Year-Old Boy to Talk

Roan, age 8

When and if Roan ever takes his first drink, kisses his first love, utters his first angry swear or throws his first punch, I will be asking questions. I will be all Vinny Barbarino on him with the “Who? What? Where? Why? When?” (You know who that is, right? Vinny Barbarino? I’m not the only one who watched “Welcome Back Kotter” right? Cool.) I’ve already started driving Roan nuts with the invasive provocative questions. Who got in trouble in class today? Who would you want to take on a family vacation? Who did you eat lunch with? What part of the playground did you play on?

Code name, "Poochi"

It’s not that I feel I need to know any of these things, it’s just that if I don’t ask specifics, I get a lot of “I don’t know” and “nothing” answers. Many conversations end up just being me fishing around for information as to who my kid is. But that’s just being a mom, and I accept that. I understand that I have to work at keeping up with him. I’m all in, that’s fine.

But I just found out something huge yesterday.

If I take an interest in something he’s obviously obsessed with, and actually join in, he’s a total blabbermouth. Not only that, he reserves time with me, double checks that I remember our date, and he shares my predilection for the crazy person non-stop questioning.

So what if it’s a video game? A role-playing video game? Roan couldn’t be more excited to show me through Oblivion, and help me put my character together. When I told him I wanted to play, he lit up brighter than every light on the Earth put together. Because he figured (rightly so) that I didn’t like the game and wasn’t interested in it. Essentially up to this point, my interaction with it was telling him to stop playing. But I figured you know, beat ’em join ’em yadda yadda yadda.

Roan is an able guide and a good teacher. He is patient and doesn’t laugh at people (me) ¬†who cannot wield a sword via an XBox controller. Roan is practical but fashionable in his role-playing world, and prefers light glass armor to the heavier rusty stuff. Most importantly, Roan carved two hours out of my day to be dedicated to him alone. He actually asked for it, looked forward to it, and kept questioning me on what I may like or dislike for my character while we played with the babies at the park this morning.

So duh. I get it. As the adult in this relationship, it’s up to me to establish the common ground. Not through inquisitions, but through participation in the things he likes. I’m guessing that I will learn more about Roan through his character, “Poochi” (I named mine “Gladys” because I’m lame-o) and by sitting next to him putting time in than I would by asking more dead-end questions.

Now I must go don my armor and sword and find some lock picks and kill some goblins. For there are jewels to find and guilds to join.

4 thoughts on “Getting and Eight-Year-Old Boy to Talk

  1. FWIW, I have a “Welcome Back, Kotter” lunch box. Metal. It probably has an Epstein note from his mother in it.

  2. Hi, good article about your eight year old boy. I believe that video games get too much of a bad reputation (Obviously some games are not for young people) but on a whole they provide a mechanism for some young people to express themselves.

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