This year, for the first time, I did the annual 20 questions (see below) with the boys at the start of school and realized that I couldn’t share all of the responses here. Just too personal, just too vulnerable, just too real. Sharing all of the answers they entrusted with me would somehow expose them. At some point, every “mommy blogger” censors and protects her children and I, of course, have been doing that since day one. But with these, even somewhat impersonal questions, I felt the exposure and raw responses more than ever. No way that I want to exhume vulnerability that the boys don’t need the world to hold…
Some moms cross over into the abyss of online oversharing with their children’s lives (I hope I won’t but life is clearly a work in progress). This mom wrote recently about over-sharing as a blogger and how it was her own father who stepped in to “Lion Grandpa” (I’m using that as a verb) for his grandson saying “enough is enough” when the mom discussed signs of his first pubertal change online. She pivoted and retreated from her raw content online and has decided to stop writing about rearing her children. Each year I write less and less about the boys and as time has unfolded I’ve taken to asking them before sharing.
There are about 200 bajillion blog posts about the challenges of “sharenting” online and blogging about children and/or the industry of moms who leverage their parenting experience in their work. No question that when it comes to sharing publicly, everybody has their own unique fingerprint of what lines exist and what lines we won’t cross. The decade (+) of blogging has clearly connected us; stories that detail intimate narratives about life and love and passion and failure and intent really do sew us together while being alive. This may be especially true in the isolation and rigors, doubts and overwhelm, and abundant joy that comes while raising children.
So to these 20 questions — the blog post has historically, around here, been a hoot for the boys. They do LOVE to be interviewed. We’ve used the interview as a benchmark into the annual unfurling of time. We have enjoyed the pool of reflection it’s given as the boys navigate concrete responses and loyalties of colors and airplanes to the progression in dreaming about the future. No question it’s fun to think about the 2012 responses and how they compare to today’s — I mean, these little boys really are growing up. Here’s the 2013 (includes 2012 responses) & the 2015 posts.
These boys are still just as sweet and innocent when they respond to the questions (developed when they were in preschool) but their reflections seem to swell now past the margins of the question and into the souls of who they are working to become. Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky me. May you, too, have a series of questions you ask each year that you write down. Next year I’m editing them and adjusting for age and we’ll see just what renders into shareable — who knows! Until then, enjoy the silliness…
Most Of The 20 Questions At The Start Of School
No question these boys talk to each other. They were interviewed alone and came up with many of the same responses..
- Favorite color?
- Oden: “Turquoise.” This was new and I asked why. Silence…
- Finn: “Pink. I asked why. “For me it’s a very soothing color.”
- Favorite number?
- Oden: 76. Why’s that I asked, “I don’t know,” was all I got. I have NO idea…
- Finn: 9 ….”Because it’s my age.” I did want to push back on this.
- Favorite food?
- Oden: “Rice and beans. No wait, Mom, sorry, I take that back, it’s sushi.”
- Finn: “Blueberries.”
- Favorite toy?
- Oden: “Mama, of course it’s legos.” Anything more specific I pleaded? “The lego foot shooter (that he had built that morning) …. So I put it on the ground and I pressed this flying piece down and then it goes flying on the ground when people can’t see it. It hits them in the feet and makes them giddy and jump.”
- Finn: long pause…let’s see…”Lego spaceport set.”
- What are you most happy about this summer?
- CENSORED. I urge you to ask this question to your children. Fascinating.
- Favorite memory from the summer?
- “Watching the glacier calving. It was so big, so loud.” (we were in Alaska with family this summer)
- “Watching the iceberg calf in Glacier Bay. Because it’s just so amazing that these huge chunks of ice fall off this huge strip of miles of ice….it’s amazing.”
- Favorite place we went this summer?
- “Denali National Park in Alaska. We saw bear and caribou (a lot more caribou than bears). 20-30 caribou. 8 bears. We went on lots of hikes. I did trip and fall but that was fine. “
- “Alaska….Glacier Bay.”
- What are you really good at?
- “I’m good at offense.”
- “Identifying commercial aircraft.” (You really can’t make this up)
- What is hard for you?
- CENSORED. I urge you to ask your children this question.
- What is your favorite thing to do at home?
- CENSORED. A lovely question that if you wait long enough you might learn something awesome…
- Who is your best friend?
- CENSORED. Worth an ask but if you have an introvert it may cause stress…(I’m taking this out of the list for next year — it’s just not all that helpful in my mind as the boys age)
- What do you want to do when you grow up?
- “Be a fisherman. I love fishing!” I mention he hasn’t done it since last summer, as in he hasn’t done this in 15 months and that I was surprised. He insisted he still loves it. And then without a beat and without any more asking or response he said, “Actually, let’s change that to a comedian. I am pretty funny…”
- “Be an astronaut.”
- What do you think your brother will do?
- “Fly a plane.”
- “I think he’ll be an artist.” I asked what kind of artist and he responded,”like a fictional kind.”
- Where do you want to live when you grow up?
- “Paris, France. Because I want to climb the Eiffel tower.” I mention he doesn’t have to live there to do that….the smart kid insisted that he wants to live there regardless.
- “Somewhere on a warm ocean. Because I like tropical climates. Not super warm and not dry heat but mild tropical places.” (smart smart smart boy)
- If you could have a super power what would it be?
- “Last time you loved my superpower…I forget what it was…..long pause….to be invincible and also want to be flat like flat Stanley, be Flat Oden so I can squeeze under doors.”
- “To be able to breathe while exploring in space without a space suit.”
- Where do you want to travel?
- “Chile in South America.”
- “Mars.” (he’s dead serious)
- What is your favorite airplane? (we are gonna bail on this question next year!)
- “Finn’s gonna like this one, I can tell you that. Mine is Qantas….”
- “Did you add this one?” Finn asked me so overjoyed that I had asked. “No,” I said, “we’ve always had this in here. “He then promptly said, “The Dreamlifter.” He describes that as a, “giant cargo aircraft capable of carrying commercial aircraft fuselage.” Finn helped me spell fuselage…true
- What is your favorite book?
- “Captain Underpants an the something toilet 2000….my brother will know exactly what the title of the book is. It’s something 2000….Supertoilet 2000.”
- “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (book 7)”
- What is your favorite song?
- “Fight Song”
- How would you describe your brother?
- CENSORED. But like the others, I’m suggesting you ask this every year as your children develop their love for each other, as their relationships change, and as they move from concrete to abstract expressions of love and discord.
BONUS Questions: you tell me.
Tessa Curtis says
I love it! I started something similar last year when Madrid started pre-school, but love these questions! The only other question I had was what is your favorite sport, because everything in our house turns into a goal, hoop, or obstacle course!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Favorite sport, double yes!
Cheryl Mcdaniel says
Thank you for your wisdom and thoughtful website!!!!! I love your insights as a new Grandma of three young ones… My parents died when I was young and I had to figure a lot out on my own … My son and daughter grew up without having grandparents… I have literally fallen in love with these babes and want to help my children to have a good family experience of sharing and parenting and your advice has been so beneficial!!!!! Gratefully yours, Cheryl ( my mom had polio and I was influenced by her illness and care needs and one of her wonderful nurses to become a nurse too… ) thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences!!!!! Best wishes and blessings for your families health and to all you touch!!!!!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Cheryl. I am so grateful you took the time to leave this comment. This work is my sincere privilege!
What’s something I didn’t ask you that you wish I had? (bonus question idea)
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Yes!!! Thank you — I also like the other one shared on Facebook borrowed from a poet,
Tori N. says
Great post, thanks for sharing.
Jodie Toresdahl says
This is great! Thanks for sharing.
Just a thought to replace number 11 for next year — “What makes you a good friend?” or “What makes someone a good friend?”