I impromptly decided to find out how my 16yr old daughter Abisola felt about her life. If she was happy or sad. If she had flow experiences daily. This idea came to me as she got into the car this morning.
When I asked her if she was happy to be interviewed for this blog, she immediately picked up a book I had in the car and looked at me as if, “what’s brought this up?”.
Abi has a tough cookie side, she says things as she sees them. I’m not sure she cares much about hurting family members feelings. I like that. I wouldn’t want my child to hold things she should say back just because she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings.
Abi is a child who appears serious on the outside. To those who don’t know her, she can appear reserved and unfriendly looking. I’ve often told her she doesn’t have an approachable looking face, that she should smile more so people see her other side. It’s as if she was born mature and responsible and over the years, she has also perfected that behaviour. Personally, I don’t think a child should appear to be too serious, there should be a nice balance between serious and relaxed. So I’ve over the years, encouraged her to loosen up in public.
This is her GCSE year. She’s not a child who shows outward signs of anxiety or worry, we have to be vigilant and keep asking her how she’s getting on, which is partly why I asked her the question “ What makes you happy?” this morning.
I found her answers quite interesting indeed, especially because I’ve been reading about how teenagers/human beings feel best in flow. It really just confirmed Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research results. Below are Abisola’s exact words.
What makes you happy?
Ermmm… doing art, my water colouring, drawing, ermm… taking notes from school, bullet journaling. I like playing tennis, going to the gym, going out with my friends. I like being busy, I think it’s good to be busy, not just to be sitting down doing nothing.
I like waking up early in the summer, when I look out of my window, because it’s so early, I see the sunrise. And I like, also in the summer, when it’s late and it’s still sunny.
I like going to school after like a 2 week holiday, when you see your friends they’re all like, “ooh, we haven’t seen you in ages” and stuff like that.
I like sports, it’s very good, it’s really fun as a team.
Oh family! Kash, because he’s so strange and he’s really funny. And then, dad when he’s like messing around ermm… playing the “I’m older than you card”, saying things like, “I should send you to Nigeria if you say or do that”.
And you (me) when we’re (Abi and Kash) watching something and you come into the kitchen, and then it’s obvious that we are watching something and you’ll be like, (mimics Nigerian accent) “oh! Is this that or is this that show or is this that character?”. D’you know what I mean? (laughing)
Then, I like when Kash and I make our dinner and we kinda of karaoke, or he’ll (Kash) introduce me to new music and then you know, we try and get you to dance with us. Or when we sang that song from Lazy Town and you and dad thought we were both crazy. Uh yeah, those are things that make me happy.
Can you describe or explain the feeling of happiness that you get from all that you’ve just said?
It just makes me feel content because usually in those moments I just think or recognise that this makes me happy or I feel that my life is going really well. Things like that, or I feel like there’s nothing I would change in that moment.
These activities that you say make you happy, how would you describe them? Are they easy or difficult to do?
Well, tennis and art, they are quite hard because I’m trying to get better, especially for the level I’m going at – beyond recreational level. I guess art is recreational, but not tennis, not really. Tennis, I really love it, I’ve been playing since, you know how old. And art more recently. It’s quite tough but I really enjoy it because, for example when I finished my first sketch book, I just looked at the first sketch and the last one, just seeing the progress, it just like, makes you feel good inside. Even though I’m not where I want to be yet, and it will take a while before I get there (like tennis), knowing that I’m improving makes me happy. When you don’t improve, you just feel like you’re stuck. Activities like going out with friends or cooking with Kash, those are easy. So it’s like a mixture of both.
What don’t you enjoy about your family life? Or if you could change anything about your family, what would you change?
Probably that we are all stubborn in different ways. I think if we all worked on that and we all listened to each other, that would be better. Other than that, I wouldn’t change anything because I really like the dynamic of our family.
What is the dynamic of our family?
We’re all really close, we crack jokes a lot. It’s not super serious. We all get along very well. We’re okay in our own space and we can easily do things together, it’s not awkward. We go out a lot, we do activities together, we play tennis, we all go to the gym, we all have similar hobbies and interests. I just really love the dynamic. We don’t really fight or anything you know.
This stubbornness that you talk about, give me examples of how each family member can be stubborn.
The stubbornness is in specific topics or situations.
Me, when I’m playing tennis, I don’t take criticism very well.
Kash, when you tell him to do something, he won’t do it for a while, until the last second.
You and Dad, with regards certain topics, if we don’t agree, you don’t change your mind. You’re really set on that.
And it ended there because we had reached the bus stop and she had to get her bus to school.
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