Usually, I am not into gossip.
Sure, if there is something startling or exciting going on at work or within a group of friends, I like hearing about it.
But I don’t actively seek it out.
Where I have found the exception to this self-imposed rule concerns the gossip about my kids and their friends at school.
One reason this topic piques my interest is because I get so little information from my children — that is, about their own lives.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first moms to hear that USC football coach Pete Carroll was headed to the Seahawks, and to get details about the Reds new pitcher.
But I believe this absence of personal divulgence is largely due to the fact that I have no daughters, who often are more open to sharing these details.
For instance, when I talk to my sons about school, I hear only what they ate for lunch or what they played at recess. And, if strongly pressed, one thing they did in the classroom that day. There are no nuances, no impressions, no feelings expressed.
Fortunately, I am friends with other parents at the school … and they have daughters. They hear all about what I consider to be the fun stuff: friends, dating, personalities, etc.
And they are good sharers.
One time one of the parents mentioned to me that, at a birthday party my son was not at, it had been revealed that a “long-standing” couple had broken up. Reportedly, all the girls present were shocked.
None of the boys, not even the boy involved, seemed as concerned.
Later, in a misguided attempt to start a conversation, I asked my 10-year-old about the couple. “Hey, did you know that (so-and-so) broke up?”
“No,” he said, looking at me quizzically. “How do you know?”
“Oh, you know, parents talk,” I told him, then made a mental note to venture down that road again.
Another reason I would like to hear about the little details of their days is because it is an opportunity to get to know them better; and for us to talk about shared experiences.
That, at least, I think the boys are somewhat open to. When I heard (again from another parent) last year that the “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” started populating the fourth grade, it opened the door to a healthy, more natural conversation.
“You know, I had my first boyfriend in fourth grade,” I told my oldest son.
He whipped his head around — “You did!?”
I nodded and added some details I thought he would find funny about how we had convinced our one friend who didn’t have a boyfriend that she should have one, and helped her pick out cute boys on the playground.
Then I told my son how, as girlfriends and boyfriends, we had kissed on the cheek once in a while and held hands, and went skating sometimes.
He smiled, and said that he wasn’t sure what his friends who were “dating” did (because he probably hadn’t talked to them about it, either). He seemed reassured by the talk … and possibly surprised that he didn’t self-combust talking to me about it.
At any rate, I do hope the kids at least know they can come to my husband and me about these social issues, whenever they’re ready.
And by now they should know, I will be all ears.