I recently posted a note on Facebook about something I had started with my son about a week ago (http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=1409662699¬es_tab=app_2347471856). Each night, I ask him a question about himself. It has to be open-ended, but otherwise, there are no rules. I did it as a way to make him feel appreciated, especially as he gets older and the developmental need to pull away from the parental overlords becomes stronger. I want him to know that we understand he is his own person, with tastes, thoughts, and dreams apart from our own. So far, I think it has worked well. Time will tell if he is soon uninspired by the whole process.
But a few nights ago, he surprised me with a question, "Are you asking me all these things for a story?" "No," I replied, "I just want to get to know you better." Which is true, of course, but the darker side of me did realize that I was getting some great information about the mind of a nine-year old. I've used him for advice a couple of times before, and I'm not ashamed to say that with a few of my picture books, his advice was spot on. Hopefully he'll forgive me if a little sparkle of our conversations makes its way into a book someday. But for the most part, my son, it really is just a way to know you better and make sense of this mess called parenting.