How Was Your Day?
Every afternoon, after picking up my daughters from school, I ask the same question: “So, how was your day?” Normal kids say, “Fine.” Normal parents accept it and move on. Long ago, when my kids tried to be normal about this, I (being ever abnormal) didn’t let them. I started asking them to elaborate:
“What was the best part of your day?”
“What was the worst part of your day?”
It became a joke, but inevitably after the blasé responses, I would actually get bits and pieces of things that had actually happened during the day, and more often than not, as they started to think about it, they’d catch hold of some little thread of a story–something a teacher or a friend had said, some funny moment, some announcement that had been made.
Once, I heard of someone who would ask their kids to describe their day in three parts: the rose, the thorn, and the bud. The rose was supposed to be the best part; the thorn was the worst part; and the bud was for something they were looking forward to. I tried this with my girls. It lasted about a week.
Another attempt was the two truths and a lie game. This was hilarious and would send us all into fits of laughter on our way home, but eventually it lost its luster, too. I recall that on one particular day, my older daughter simply didn’t want to participate, so I shortened the prompt to just one truth and one lie, and then, in a desperate attempt to just get her to tell me something, I shortened it to just one lie. She told me that aliens had visited her school.
Eventually, we went back to the basic, “How was your day?” Some days I’d get a lot. Some days I’d get a little.
This year, however, for some strange reason my younger daughter has taken to GUSHING about her day from the moment she gets in the car. She complains about assignments and teachers, tells me about funny things that happened during lunch, informs me of the gossip, expresses her concerns. She sometimes goes through each and every one of her classes, recounting all the highlights, until finally she stops, exhausted and breathless, and I’m left feeling as if I just lived her whole day right along with her. She tells me that she’s even begun to take mental notes throughout the day, filing things for later to make sure she doesn’t forget, and I remember that feeling too–that sensation of wanting to hang on to something, of wanting to make sure you don’t forget so that you can then share it with your friend or significant other. In this way, it’s like that other person is right there with you all the time, because you know that once you share the moment they will give you their opinion or reaction or advice.
In her art class, this younger daughter of mine is supposed to be making a collage. Part of the assignment is to add a quote. I thought she would choose something profound from Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin, but instead, she’s adding the words “How was your day?” I laughed when she told me this, not understanding. But then she explained:
“It’s because all these different things happen to us throughout the day. We experience all these moments and little events, and by the end of the day, we completely forget. It’s like they never happened, they just fall out of your head. Years later, you remember the big things, the parties, the special occasions, the tragedies, but all those little things just disappear.”
Indeed, younger daughter. Point taken.