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The Communication Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke.

by Hal Evan Caplan
July 4, 2009

I am the student, my tyke is my teacher. He often reminds me of important lessons. Some of these lessons are long forgotten, by me, and I am excited to re-learn or to be reminded of these lessons he deems are important to teach me. Usually, I am not aware that he is teaching me or reminding me until it's actually over. Then, and only then, it hits me and I can't believe that I didn't see "that one" coming. That is why he is my teacher...

When I come home from work each day, I like to sit down with my teacher and see how his day went. I do this as soon as possible upon walking in the door because I know he is going outside to play is to follow shortly thereafter. Once we sit down, our routine usually starts with me asking about his day and the things he did. I do my best not just to ask questions where a "yes" or "no" could be the answer. Next, we move onto the subject of his favorite activity of the day, and then we wrap up with him showing me the drawings he has made throughout the day.

On this particular day, I happened to still be on my cell phone conducting business when I walked into the house, and I had to go into a room where I could get some privacy. Obviously this was not my normal routine and of course my teacher let me know this. Even though he respected the fact that I did need to be on the phone, he didn't like anything else taking the attention away from him, especially my work cell phone. And, my teacher had grown accustomed to having our daily time together.

By the time I was off of my business call, my wife and teacher were already outside. They were chasing each other around, squirting water guns at each other. She was soaked, but my teacher barely had a drop on him. I just sat in the chair watching them play for some time; then my teacher decided it was time for a little "break", and they both sat down in their chairs.

I figured this would be the perfect time to initiate our daily "what-did-you-do-today" conversation. It became very apparent that this was not on my teachers agenda.

"What did you do today?" I asked.
No reply came. I knew that my teacher would be feeling a little bummed out at me, but I asked another question... this time it was one that could easily be answered with a "yes" or "no".
"Did you have a good today?" I inquired.
"Not a good time." He responded.
"You didn?t have a good time, today? What happened?" I pried.
?No, I?m playing with Mom." He answered.
"You are not having a good time playing with Mom, either?" I questioned.
"I am having fun playing with Mom; I just can't talk to you right now." He expressed.
"I see." I sighed.

Then my teacher jumped out of his chair and raced over to where my wife was sitting and pulled her out of her chair. Then, he resumed squirting her with his squirt gun at close range. I figured that's probably why she was so soaked to begin with.

Finally, it was getting close to dinner time and my wife threw in the proverbial white towel, expressing that he got the best of her. "I'm done for the night, and I need to finish up with dinner", she announced. Then she called for the two of us to come inside and get cleaned up soon after she dried off in the house.

As we ate dinner, the three of us chatted about everyday topics, some in detail, some not. Once dinner was done, it was time to allow my teacher to wind down, draw or color a picture, and eventually get ready for bed.

Little did I know that I was about to be thrust right into a lesson without even realizing what was happening. It was my turn to put my teacher to bed. I kissed him good-night and he climbed into to bed. As he lay there, I began to run my fingers through his hair, knowing how much he loves this. Just then, he popped right up and expressed that we didn't have "our talk" today. Again, I explained that I had an important phone call and reminded him that it rarely happens... and that earlier I did try to talk to him outside, but he said that he was too busy.

"But Dad, that didn't count because I was playing." He demanded.
"Ok, no big deal, we'll just skip today's chat." I expressed.

I was then taken back a little by what he said next...

"Did you forget how important it is that we talk everyday and you always ask how it all went for me and stuff?" He exclaimed.

...I then agreed to have it right then and there and we began our daily "how-did-it-go-today" chat on the spot.

In a nutshell; the lesson that I was reminded of that day is: Always remember the importance of communication between you and your child, and encourage them to share their day with you.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors, especially snowboarding and plays ice hockey on a weekly basis...and of course, always learns from his son.

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