Like many children his age, my 4-year-old son has a lot of thoughts floating around in his head, but sometimes getting him to share them is easier said than done. Often, I’ll ask how his day was at school, or what’s on his mind when his eyes seem far away, and he’ll blow me off with a “Not now, Mommy” or “I’ll tell you later.” (And I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with that kind of attitude until the teenage years.)
But recently, I’ve discovered a great way to find out what my son is thinking: Spying.
It’s not what you think. Or maybe it is, in a way.
Because my son’s bedroom is on the opposite end of the house from ours, we still have his infant baby monitor set up. This means that when my son cries out in the middle of the night, I can bounce out of bed and run to his aid as needed. But it also means that I’m privy to his early morning babble sessions, which, lately, have given me a fair amount of insight into what’s on his mind.
Just the other day, I heard him wake up and start planning his meals for the day. Apparently, his intent was to have blueberries and lemonade for breakfast (huh?) and a cream cheese and jelly sandwich for lunch. Another day, he decided to summarize the plot of one of his favorite movies, stopping to mimic some of the characters, and quote multiple lines verbatim. He then revealed his little strategy to get me to say yes to said movie, which was somewhat complicated but from what I could gather involved getting in the car really nicely after preschool pickup to butter me up.
But the one revelation that really got me had to do with his twin 14-month-old sisters. One day, he got up and started saying, “First I’m going to say ‘good morning’ to K, and then I’m going to say ‘good morning’ to A. But I love you both, and tomorrow, A, you’ll get to go first. Okay, A?”
That bit surprised me in so many ways. First, the fact that my son woke up thinking of his sisters was so touching to me I almost cried. Second, I was rather impressed that he’d clearly mastered the concept of having to take turns. And third, I was amazed at his ability to make the point I’m always working so hard to drive home—that I love all my children, even if I can’t always give them equal attention all the time.
Don’t get me wrong—there are mornings when I wake up way too early to the sound of my son’s uninhibited ramblings, and a big part of me wants to bolt out of bed, turn off the monitor, and enjoy an extra precious 20 minutes of sleep. But for the most part, I’ve really come to cherish my early morning eavesdropping sessions. I realize spying on my son is not something I’m going to get away with forever, and for now, if learning what he’s thinking means starting my day a bit more tired than I’d prefer, it’s a tradeoff I’m happy to make.