Yeah, that’s a Menorah AND
a Christmas tree. We get around.
Katie was groaning the other day about going to another holiday party. “I don’t hate the party mom, I hate all the dumb questions the adults ask me!” she lamented.
I think I am one of those adults! 
It’s terrifying when you realize you have crossed over to the other side and are now one of the adults asking kids stupid questions. So I thought I would try and make up for the error of my ways and list the top five questions Katie (and her friends) have said are the most dread questions adults are most likely to ask.
On behalf of my college bound young friends, I have also added a bonus question.
When you look at these questions, they really are horrible. They are kind of “dead ends” that leave the child very little room for answering in an interesting way. And as Katie reminds me, making conversation is hard. So maybe we need make a little more effort to help them chat with us in a more meaningful way.
Here are the five things NOT to ask (read the question and then the response that runs through the head of the young person you are talking to!):
1. How’s school?
Um, it’s fine. What do you want me to say? Anything I have to say that’s interesting would require a half hour of previews just to get you up-to-speed. And then you still wouldn’t understand.
2. What do you like to study? or What are you studying?
I am 11 [insert age here]. I am studying what the teachers say to study. I don’t have a lot of choice here.
3. What do you want to do when you grow up?
Are you serious? Did you know the answer to this question? Don’t you listen to the news? There aren’t any jobs out there. Things are a mess. And I just have to get through history!
4. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Yes. But I don’t want to tell you yes because then you will say something to my parents. Or the flipside: No. Now you know I am a total loser.
5. How is your [insert hobby or sport here] going?
It’s fine. I like it, that’s why I do it. I get to see my friends and it’s the one thing I can do that doesn’t involve getting a grade so it’s cool. What else can I tell you?
Bonus: Where are you going to college? I don’t know; I wish I did. I have lost sleep over this. It’s not like I have any control over the situation. I sent in all my apps but don’t you know that no one is getting the schools they way anymore and that it’s going to cost a fortune and I still have to get through midterms and keep my grades up and do extracurricular activities and not do anything wrong before I can even find out that I didn’t get my first choice, my second choice or my safety school?

Now, here are five questions you could ask that may still challenge the young person but might stimulate a bit more conversation:

1. What the best movie/TV show you’ve seen lately?
And you can follow-up with why. Great ice breaker and will reveal to you what they are interested in. This might require you having a clue about recent movies and television shows.
2. What’s something you would change about school this year?
Chances are you’ll get a speech about homework, but don’t let it end there. Ask why or how they would help kids learn differently.
3. Who is/are your favorite teacher(s)?
Kids have lots of opinions about their teachers and this is likely to lead to a good discussion of who, why and who doesn’t make the list.
4. What’s the coolest thing you have done with your friends lately?
It’s way easier for kids to talk about their friends. As you listen to them talk, you are likely to learn quite a bit about them as well.
5. What are you doing for [insert upcoming holiday here]?
Apparently this question is asked most frequently among the kids so they should be able to come up with an answer for you!
I know there are a million more questions on both the good and bad side. Love to hear your ideas and suggestions.
Happy Holidays!