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Four Little Things

2013 January 23

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It started innocently enough. On the (very) short drive home from school, I would ask Little D how her day was.


Ok. I would prod a little further…like really good? Ok good? Sort of good? What did you learn? Who did you play with? I peppered her with questions before we were even out of the parking lot.

“Just good.”

She is five. Visions of a sulking sixteen year old glued to her iPhone in my backseat (or front seat by then, I suppose…or gasp, driving me in her car) danced through my head.

I think I have a pretty great relationship with my daughter. She seems to be quite the mommy’s girl. We hang out, we laugh, she looks to me for comfort and wisdom and most of the time, listens to it.

But suddenly, I could feel her slipping away…slowly. With one little word.


She is five.

If I can’t find a way to talk to her now, how will I talk to her later when it really counts? I am already an avid reader of articles and advice on raising teenagers. Frankly, having adolescents in this day and age freaks me right out. So many pressures and societal factors to contend with. So many bullies and drugs and cliques and texts and…Facebook.

I may be naive, but I hope to find a way to push through that clutter and still be a welcome voice to my kids, even when they are thirteen, fifteen, seventeen and beyond.

So I have started with four little things.

Now when Little D gets in the car after school, I ask her to tell me four things about her day. Any old things. It can be what she ate at snack, who she sat next to during music, which book they read at story time. Any four things. But she has to be quick about it, done before we finish the mile or so drive home. And they have to be from that day. And I don’t hammer her with any questions beyond that one – tell me four things about your day.

Why four? Who knows, it was the first number that came to mind. It was less than 10 but more than three, which seemed perfectly comfortable for both of us.

It takes her a minute. Despite me continuously telling her it can be anything, big or small, funny or not, she likes to give it some thought. But since we started, she has managed to come up with four each and every day before we make it home. One day I learned about her newfound interest in fossils. Another I discovered that she is indeed friends with that boy Luke who reportedly isn’t friends with any of the girls. Yesterday, I learned that she doesn’t really like the cheese I have been putting in her sandwiches for months now (note to self).

Four little things. That have become so big without either of us really realizing it.

It’s quick and it’s (almost) effortless and it’s fun.

And with no sign of the word anywhere, it’s really…good.

*image above of Josie Maran and her daughter Rumi via The Glow*

13 Responses leave one →
  1. January 23, 2013

    Love this post. It’s very much speaking to me today … after a particularly difficult morning with a 6 year old who suddently “hates” school. Your post is alovely reminder to find ways of keeping the conversation going, even when the going gets tough. Have started reading Simplicity Parenting – thanks for the recommend. Ten pages in and its already a game changer.

    • WWGD permalink*
      January 23, 2013

      So happy to read this, Amanda. Simplicity Parenting is definitely worth the full read — I picked up so many great things from it and in general, just found a new appreciation for the “less is more” approach to parenting. Glad you are liking it! Thank you for sharing!

  2. liz duncan permalink
    January 23, 2013

    I have so much to learn about raising my own children and this article is helpful. I remember being inconvenienced by all the questions my parents had while I was growing up. At dinner during the week my dad would ask, “How was your day, today?” and I think we (myself and 5 sisters) all answered with, “Good.” I think when I raise my kids I’m going to completely cut “good” from their vocabulary. Is that possible? Ha!

    • WWGD permalink*
      January 23, 2013

      The fact that you give parenting so much thought before you’ve even started is a VERY good sign. You will be great, am sure 🙂

  3. January 23, 2013

    This is great. I have turned a negative (the insane parking lot pick-up/drop-off stress) into a positive and park in a nearby neighborhood near Sutton’s school. Other parents do it too, so I usually have to park and the end of a long line of cars and when there isn’t a long line of cars I pretend there is and park far away anyway. I do this so when I walk back to my car sometimes holding her hand we can chat about her day. Sometimes she complains about how far away I park, but I just want to hold onto the moments where she’ll still hold my hand and innocently tell me about who was on star student and wheather she rode bikes on the playground or went across the monkey bars. I like four things. It isn’t overbearing but you still connect and get a tiny sliver of Little D’s day 🙂

    • WWGD permalink*
      January 23, 2013

      Ha, I have seen that conglomerate of walking parents 😉 Brilliant idea.

  4. anita permalink
    January 23, 2013

    excellent idea! my family does ‘good day, bad day’ at the dinner table (when we 4 actually make it to the dinner table…at the same time!). my then 5-yr-old / now 6-yr-old Lily made it up and we’ve been doing it for a year and a half. even my 3-yr-old Charlie does it (between burp and fart jokes – encouraged by daddy, of course!). good day = ‘i really liked my granola bar’. bad day = ‘aiden called me a poo-poo in the gym’. love your blog, BTW. found you through a mutual friend in MTL.

    • WWGD permalink*
      January 23, 2013

      Well thank you for the kind words, Anita! We tried the dinner table thing too, but we found we are just so busy trying to get them to focus on actually EATING at the table, it was too much work. For some reason, the car ride is more contained and helps her open up a little more. But whatever works for you is a GOOD thing! Hope you’re staying warm up there, heard it’s frigid in Mtl today 🙁

  5. January 23, 2013

    I love this idea too! I have a five-year-old son and he has started the same thing. It is terrifying to think about the day when he refuses to talk to me about his day! How will I help him?!!!

    Loved this post. Thank you for sharing.

    • WWGD permalink*
      January 23, 2013

      Thanks for the kind words, Lauren!

  6. Erica permalink
    January 23, 2013

    I had the same problem. My go-to is, “what was the best part of your day? What was the worst?”. Two questions and they often open the door to a great conversation. I’ll definitely try your gimme 4, too.
    (BTW, you’d be amazed at how many children come to school at a disadvantage because their parents don’t talk to them. You can see it in all of their thought processes as well as in their lack of vocabulary.)

  7. January 23, 2013

    This is really great. I don’t have kids yet, and have always been an “over-sharer,” but I saw how much it frustrated my much younger brother when my parents would ask “How was your day?” It’s interesting that parents often think that they’re really opening up a conversation that way, I think a lot of kids can get overwhelmed. “What part of my day? It all just happened to me for 8 hours, and I’m still processing it!” Whenever I’m trying to talk to him about what’s going on in his life, I try to pick up threads of previous conversations and see if that sparks him to share a related event that just occurred.

  8. January 24, 2013

    Love this tradition! Like you, I ask the kids about their school day only to be given a short, “Good.” I’m sure in their mind, the question must seem overwhelming. Where do they even begin? Giving them some structure – four things – may help them be more prolific. I’m hoping anyway. I shall give it a try. 😉

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