Landmines -- A parent/child conversation

Phyl Campbell By Phyl Campbell, 10th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Parenting

Do you ever feel like a conversation with your kid is like stepping into a whole bunch of landmines? You are not alone. Here's an example of a typical day with my son on the drive home from school.


A happy child skips to my car. A war-hardy pre-teen enters and slams the door behind him. I have no idea what transpires between the happy kid leaving school and the war-veteran that enters the car. I worry that it's me.

“So, how was school?”

I am cautiously optimistic for a response.


With one word, the battle begins. The mines are buried. I know I will trip every one.

"Just fine?"

“Just fine? Can you tell me more?”

No pressure. Tread lightly here.

“I just want to know what you do for eight hours a day without me.”

Silence from the passenger seat.

“Did you learn anything?” I venture cautiously.

“Well, my friend likes this one girl, and last week he didn’t, but now he does.”

“That’s nice. Did you learn anything, say, academic?”

“I don’t remember.”

Defensive positions by the opposition. I am ready for this.

"What about lunch?"

I return to neutral territory.

“OK. How was lunch?” I ask. Lunch, packed by me, is usually safe. “Did you have a good lunch?”

“Yeah. I shared my ketchup but a little bit of milk got in it."

I don’t even care where the milk came from, or if it was his. He is talking to me.

I venture further, and step on a landmine.

“Little like a few drops or little like the whole box?”

“I don’t knoooooooowwwwww.” The bottom lip starts to quiver.

Evasive maneuvers — change the subject.

“OK. How was PE?”

He likes PE.


“What did you do?”

“You know, stuff.”

I take a deep breath --

I take a deep breath and jump into the minefield. Mothers know -- this really should not be attempted while driving.

“What about spelling?” I ask bravely.


He would much rather ignore me, but my pursuit is dogged.

“Spelling? What did you learn about your spelling words today?” I persist.

“I don’t remember. Can we not talk about this?” He crosses his arms and turns away from me to stare out the window.

Seriously? You’re 9, not 19. What’s wrong with this? I don’t dare voice that thought aloud.

I don’t text while driving; I operate battle stations. My target is the back of my son’s head, which is all I can see when he’s turned away from me.

"Well, what about science?"

“Well, what about science? You love science.”

“We didn’t even DOOOOOOO science today!”

“I’m sorry. I know you like science. I’m sorry you had to miss it.”

“Yeah, we had to do *insert random unintelligible words* earthworm.”

“Earthworm?” I am desperately latching onto something that sounds science-y. “You studied something about an earthworm?”

“We read a book.”

“You read a book about earthworms?”

“Yeah.” The duh, you idiot, may not be spoken, but it is more than implied.

“Well, earthworms are living, and that’s science. That’s cool.”

“Mom, it was a book. Books aren’t science.”

It’s rather hard to refute this logic.

"Mom, where's my snack?"

“Mom, where’s my snack?”

How could I forget the key ingredient in my arsenal?

“I got you chocolate chip cookies.”

Mothers in the 60s could always get their kids to open up with a snack of cookies and milk. I guess someone forgot to tell my son about Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch. But then I hear my son say,

“Thanks, Mom. This is the best cookie I ever had.”

And my whole world shifts again.

So I won’t bother to point out to my son that I still have no idea what he has done or been through during his eight hours at school. Tiptoeing around the landmines has left me physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

I hate this war.

I'm learning that my son doesn't love it either. We are friends -- when I'm not MMMMOOOOMMMM -- he doesn't get pleasure from torturing me. But he is wired this way, I am wired to worry, and our biological hazards have us at an impasse.

If I’m going to win the war on communication in parenting, this battle must be given over to him. So I’m sitting down, buckled up, and trying not to ask too many questions. My white flag is in the air. And sometimes, I will learn something — if I listen between the rubble-like crumbs.

Photo Credits:

Landmines --

"Just fine?" --

"What about lunch?" --

I take a deep breath --

"Well, what about science?" --

"Mom, where's my snack?" -- <img src="" width="446" height="345" border="0"><br>Photo credit: <a href="">MindExpansi0n</a> from <a href=""></a>

Do you have a similar experience?

And just for the record, when I read Landmines to my son, and asked him if I could share it with people, he said yes. He also said "That's what you call writing? That was Tuesday." So I guess he thought I was pretty accurate.

Do you have a similar experience -- either with your child or with your parent? Leave a comment. Or, follow this link to create your own article: Happy writing!


Mother, Mother And Son, Mother Son Relationship, Motherhood, Mothers, Parenting, Talking With Your Child

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
3rd Oct 2013 (#)

Phyl, at least you got a few words out of him. That's progress.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Connie. I try to remember that!! ;)

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