Every year on their birthday, I interview my children. They are asked the same 20 questions each year, starting when they were 3-years-old.

There are so many remarkable things about these interviews. The first and most obvious is the documentation of their growth over the years. From barely intelligible toddler speech at 3-years-old to fart jokes at 7-years old, I can’t wait for whatever future interviews may reveal.

The second is that as much as they grow and change from year to year, you can see their little personalities from the first interview. They get bigger, but their preferences, humour, and mannerisms remain the same.

It is surprising and somewhat frustrating how completely present the children are when responding to questions. In many cases, they don’t answer accurately, but reply based on something happening around them. For instance, on my son’s 7th birthday, he received a soccer ball and it was resting nearby during the interview. Despite having had very little experience with any kind of ball (he does not play soccer, soccer is not a sport offered at his school, and didn’t ask for this gift), three of his responses were related to how much he loves kicking balls, how he’s good at kicking balls, and how his favourite toy is the ball. It’s only frustrating because with the focus on the present, their actual interests aren’t represented in the interview. You’re probably alright at kicking a ball, Dan, but you’re awesome at building, running, biking, and knitting.

Every year, I find myself touched by some part of the interview. These kids have the uncanny ability to be utterly earnest and authentically sentimental. During Dan’s first interview, he expressed his desire to marry me because I was his best friend. This was followed shortly afterwards by disenchantment in the news that I was already married to his father.

There are few family traditions that I value as highly as the annual birthday interview. When their responses don’t seem quite right, I note down what I think the factually correct answer would be. If I were to do it again, I’d two other questions. My first question would be, “What’s your name?” because it’s really neat to hear how they pronounce it when they’re younger and how they might change how they refer to themselves as they get older. I’d also add, “If you name wasn’t ______, what do you wish we named you?” For years my son has wished his name was Blade and when I asked my daughter this question, she responded Fairyland or Princess-princess.

Without further ado, here are the questions.

  1. How old are you?
  2. Who is your best friend?
  3. What is your favourite thing to do?
  4. What is your favourite colour?
  5. What is your favourite food?  
  6. What is your least favourite food?
  7. What do you like to do most with your family?
  8. What is your favourite toy?
  9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
  10. What is your favourite book?
  11. What do you think about before you fall asleep?
  12. What is your favourite movie or DVD?
  13. What is your favourite outfit/clothing?
  14. What song do you love?
  15. Which sport do you like best?
  16. What are you really good at?
  17. Where do you wish you could go on vacation?
  18. What is your best/favourite memory?
  19. What would you buy if you had $1000?
  20. What do you hope to do before your next birthday?