A set of 23 questions has been going around on Facebook that many of my friends have been asking their young children – it makes me wish I had a young child to ask! It’s been lovely to see the answers, which range from funny to sweet to thought-provoking.
What gave me pause in this was someone’s suggestion that your child’s answers should be saved and asked again each year. As many of you know, my youngest child, Emma, died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 19. Instantly, every aspect of her life became precious as my family sought to preserve every piece of her that we could – from everything in her room to everything she had every written to every memory we could capture and freeze in as much detail as possible.
It became immediately clear that there was a void in what we knew, and thus could preserve, about Emma. Some were things I wished I had asked her more consistently (and remembered more deliberately) throughout the years. What was her favorite memory when she was 5? 10? 19? What were her favorite places? … the things she was most proud of?
The vast majority of you won’t lose your child to death, thank goodness. But you will lose your one-year-old when she becomes two, your toddler when he becomes four or five, your middle-schooler when she gets to high school. And one day, you will lose the young adult who is meant to leave you and start a family of his own. Will you have been able to preserve what matters most from each of those years?
These are the things I wish I had captured year over year about Emma. Perhaps I knew many of them at one time, in the moment, but my recall beyond the last few years of her life is sketchy. Oh, how I wish there had been Facebook when my children were children – the energy of the many often encourages the individual to respond in kind, and I have no doubt I would have joined into the question-asking wave.
This thinking led me to create a different set of questions – questions which I’d love to have a record of year over year. You should feel free to use them to have a dialogue with your child, then hold onto it for when you need to be reminded of those all too fleeting yesterdays!
What do you know about your child?
Here are 21 questions to ask your child ABOUT THEM:
- What’s your favorite food?
- What’s your favorite flower?
- If you were an animal, what would you be?
- What makes you happy?
- What makes you sad?
- What makes you laugh the most?
- What have you done that you’re most proud of?
- What’s the best thing you learned this year?
- What’s the best thing you did this year?
- What was your best surprise ever?
- What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
- When you become famous, what will it be for?
- What are you really great at?
- What do you wish you could do better?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What’s the most special thing about you?
- What are you most thankful for?
- What are three words you use to describe yourself?
- What are three words other people use to describe you?
- If you were a movie or book character, who would you be and why?
- What do you wish you and your family could do together more?
I hope they encourage a rewarding kind of dialog with your child. I’d love to see the various answers to these questions shared among my friends. I think they would help me remember some of what my child was like at various ages. More important, I hope they will help you remember as those all too important moments of the past cede their clarity to the demanding moments of the present.