If I hadn’t given birth to both, I would question whether or not my children were related to one another. When I look at my son and daughter, I realize that they barely look like distant cousins, much less siblings. My daughter has big green eyes, a curly mass of brown hair, long legs, and a dark and brooding nature. My son was born with light, nearly translucent, blonde hair, has deep-set blue eyes, a sturdy frame, and a sunny disposition. It is no surprise that their interests are almost as divergent as their innate natures. As their mother, it is sometimes tiring to keep up with every little thing they love, especially when these hobbies are vastly different from the things I find appealing.
I am a middle-aged woman, my pastimes naturally deviate from my children’s, and because of this, at least in part, I discovered that I was slowly drifting away from each of them. We had little to talk about other than homework, what they wanted for dinner, and what they had on their Christmas or birthday lists. I didn’t want to be that parent, the unapproachable mom who was truly no fun. More importantly, I wanted my kids to know that what they had to say, what they loved, was on my radar, too. One day, after telling my kids that I was too busy with work to share their excitement over the topics of the day, I realized that I was letting them both down and showing them that what they liked did not matter. I knew this had to change, and I began to make a concerted effort to get to know the things my children loved, even if they initially did not resonate with me.
To say that my daughter is a fan of the show “Supernatural” is an understatement. She met some of the stars of the show last fall and cried like a teenage girl afflicted with Beatle-mania during the British Invasion. I used to find her fangirling more than slightly irritating. Despite my reluctance, I approached her one day late last year and asked to watch the show, starting with season one, which began in 2005. I clearly had a lot of catching up to do. We settled on her bed and turned on Netflix. As the young, handsome duo on the screen ran around chasing demons and vampires, I started to ask my daughter questions about the show, the actors, and the “Supernatural” fandom in general. She was more than happy to share, and the more she told me, the less frantic she seemed about the topic. The conversation flowed freely and I learned why she loved this show so much. It’s entertaining, funny, and the actors aren’t bad to look at, either. The best thing about watching “Supernatural”? We very often end up talking about other topics and I’ve gotten to know my daughter better in a relaxed, comfortable setting.
My son’s interests tend to revolve around video games and card games like Pokémon. At first, feigning attentiveness in his activities was far more difficult than watching a popular television show with his sister. However, even if I have no idea what I’m doing when playing Minecraft or if I am utterly confused about the rules of YU-GI-OH!, I finally discovered the key to enjoying these mind-boggling pastimes. My son simply wanted me to pay attention and listen to him. The fact that he is far better at every game we play is just the icing on the cake for him. After turning off Minecraft one day, we discovered that the newest version of “Scooby Doo” was playing on Cartoon Network. I love Scooby Doo and, as it turns out, so does my son. We watched a few episodes, vowing to view it again whenever we have the chance. I might not know much about video games, but I do know a good cartoon when I see it. And those video games, where I am certain to lose, led me down another path I can travel with my son as we bond over watching some meddling kids solve mysteries with their talking dog.
So, regardless of the differences in my kids’ looks, temperaments, and overall personalities, my goal to spend meaningful time with each one on a regular basis is a constant. I want them to look back on their childhoods and remember how their mom took a genuine interest in minecraft and supernatural. The things that were important to them. Hopefully, they can then pass that legacy on to their own kids because everyone deserves to know that what they love matters.
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