Kids say the most incredible things.
In the munchkin’s case, he says incredible things all day-every day. I’m lucky I don’t have to spend all day-every day with him, because it’s exhausting keeping up. I usually feel like I’ve been hit by a truck at the end of those days when he is home with me, and school holidays… well!
Occasionally I write them down. I wish I wrote them down more often, because they make fascinating reading. Usually, it’s as a quick Facebook post before I forget. One day, I’ll sort through all these posts and document them properly. Maybe I’ll even remember the context.
I don’t write them down more often because I want to be “present” to the moment, to appreciate the conversation and help him explore the places where his active little mind goes. Also, I’d never get anything done.
My lovely friend Kerri is far more diligent. She has a “funnies book” for each of her boys, where she jots down those little treasures as soon as she can.
So when I discovered Harrell Fletcher’s Interviews with Children on the new DumboFeather site, I was excited – truly excited. What questions would I ask the munchkin if I were to interview him? Where would it lead? Would I have to spend the rest of my life with my iPhone at the ready, just to press “record” at the appropriate moment? Would there be any other way I could keep up with him? And with just a little bit of trepidation, did I really want to share with the rest of the world the stuff that goes on during our conversations?
Then I promptly forgot about it, as I got involved with the rest of life – until last week.
The conversation happened in the car to pre-school and went as follows:
Cath: What are you doing today?
Munchkin: I’m going to photograph animals with that man in the Life of Birds.
C: You mean David Attenborough?
M: Yes, I’m working with David Attenborough. Cheetah’s coming with me. (Cheetah is one of his soft toys.) We’re flying from Africa to South America to go to the jungle. Cheetah’s my servant.
C: Don’t you mean “assistant”?
M: Yes, Cheetah’s my assistant. He’s going to pick up the animals to photograph them. He’s not going to pick them up in his teeth.
C: I certainly hope not!
M: No, he’s going to use his claws.
C: I hope he’s not going to hurt the animals.
M: No, he can put his claws away.
C: Oh, he has retractable claws, like a cat. I didn’t know cheetahs had retractable claws (we had learned this on our last trip to the zoo).
M: Cheetah has retractable claws (and yes, he pronounced it perfectly) because I did an alteration in his blood. Now he can fold his claws away.
…where my mind promptly wandered off to explore my feelings about my son becoming a crazy scientist doing X-Men like genetic experiments on innocent soft toys. And how we’d gotten from the appealing career as a wildlife photographer with David Attenborough into this strange place.
What I loved most about this exchange was that I hadn’t set it up as a formal “interview”, yet it said so much about him, and how his little mind works. It took only the briefest amount time and effort to record the conversation afterwards.
It’s the little moments like these that will keep these precious years of early childhood alive in our memories. They’re the ones we’ll look back on fondly and laugh about; the ones, that during the darkest storms of the teen years, we’ll yearn for; the ones we’ll share with our grandchildren.
You may like to do the “Interview with Your Child” as a special project, perhaps revisiting it each year or so (much like the 7 Up project did). You may even like to post it on the DumboFeather site. Or you can do what Kerri does (and I do sometimes) and keep a dedicated “Funnies Book”.
My only thought regarding this is to “go with the flow” because, being kids, the conversation could go anywhere. It may be a good idea to have someone other than yourself do the interview, such as a close family friend, grandparent or carer – but then you’ll miss out on the fun
Step 1: Choose a time when you child is fresh, relaxed and ready to talk. You may choose to “hold the interview” while they are doing something else, such as drawing or playing, but keep in mind the answers may relate to that activity. (Unfortunately, the only time I can catch the munchkin sitting still is in the car!)
Step 2: Get your voice recorder ready on your phone, if you have one. If not, get ready to write quickly or remember the details of the conversation.
Step 3: Start off with one or two simple questions, perhaps about current interests or activities. Then go from there. Have a couple of extra questions up your sleeve, in case the conversation comes to an abrupt stop and your child needs extra prompting.
Step 4: Take some photos, either at the time or at your leisure, that can be used as illustrations for your interview.
Step 5: If you like, publish them as part of Harrell Fletcher’s Interviews with Children here.
Step 1: Buy a journal that you love, will stand up to a little rough-and-tumble and that fits in your bag, or choose a suitable app for your smart phone. (Leaf’s Little Tackers Journal has a section specifically for this, or you can use one of our gorgeous recycled notebooks from our Notebook Duos like Kerri does.)
Step 2: Carry it with you at all times, unless you have a good memory.
Step 3: Use it – often!
Step 4: If you’re keeping the records digitally, back up often and convert to a document format suitable for printing (see notes on Digital Archiving)
Step 5: Compile it together with some cute photos from the same era into a printed photo book or similar and give to your child on his/her 21st birthday. Print a copy for yourself too. You could also make it into a presentation or slideshow as part of the event’s formalities.