Sunday, April 28, 2013

On the record

Our girls have many complaints about my behavior, but lately, they’ve been harping on me for one particular “offense.”
Interviewing them.
Apparently, I need to stop doing that.
Hey, I happen to be a reporter. I interview people for a living. I ask questions all day long. And when I get home, I keep on asking.
Our children are the perfect story sources. Unlike my day job, where I meet someone for an hour or two, write a story and be done with it, I live with these subjects. I’m like the mom version of the journalist who’s embedded with an army unit behind front lines. And yes, that battle metaphor is particularly fitting at our home. 
Unfortunately, our teens aren’t exactly falling all over themselves to grant “access” to this reporter.
“Let me tell you all about my day,” said no Huffman teen ever. If any of my questions dare to tread beyond the generic “how was school today,” or “have you done your homework?” these kids go into full-on lockdown mode and start acting like a territorial PR representative. “Who wants to know? Why do you want to know? What’s this story about? Who else are you interviewing for this story?”
Apparently, it’s even worse when I’m around their friends. I swear I don’t realize I’m doing it. To me, I’m just being curious.
What’s new in 7th grade? I like to ask. Have you finished your science project yet? What color TOMS shoes is everyone wearing these days? Have you been to the new yogurt place in town? What are your favorite toppings? What books are you reading?
Stop interviewing, my girls tell me.
“You’re like a cop,” said one Huffman daughter. She also compared me to someone giving a lie detector test. You ask too many questions, she said.
Whoever said “curiosity killed the cat” didn’t have three teenagers. As a mother, it is my job to extract as much information I can from them. A mom needs to be a combination CIA agent and the talk-show host version of Katie Couric. We need intel, but we also need them to sit with us on the couch and have a friendly chat about makeup or One Direction. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a little round of applause at the end of said chat, either.
When they do deign to answer my questions, our teens can actually be helpful. They can show me new apps for my iPhone. They can tell me who got eliminated on “American Idol” the night before. They know who sings that “Thrift Shop” song and can explain what “popping tags” means.
I tried to interview my girls for this column about my pesky interviewing but I think they’re onto me.
My interview request was denied.

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