Sometimes I think my children are hearing from my mouth something other than what I am saying. I’m speaking, but it either does not compute, or it is willfully disregarded and molded into an amalgamation of words which better suits their liking.
Am I talking English? Do you hear what I am saying, people who live in my house?
I’ll cite a few examples, because I can be scholarly and stuff.
I said: “How was your day at school, Jack? Did you have fun?”
He heard: “Why don’t you toss your shoes, socks, jacket, and backpack in a heap on the floor and take a few paper plates into the backyard to shred and sprinkle through the bushes?”
Another time, the I said/he heard went like this:
I said: “It’s time to pick up the toys in the family room and put them away.”
Jack heard: “Now would be a good time for you to smuggle toys in small groupings into the backyard and heave them from the deck into the mulch pile.”
When I recently told Charlie it was quiet time and we were going to sit down together to read books and stare at our devices, he simply heard, “Go ahead and slip outside to your ‘secret’ spot around the corner of the house for your daily constitutional. I’ll be here with cleaning supplies and a happy heart when you get back.”
This scrambled communication prickled my brain tonight as I waded into the backyard mulch pile with a trash bag to retrieve toys, cups, and shredded photographs. My children and I need to communicate better. I need to speak in a way that they will listen and understand. They need to listen to me.
We need a mutual understanding because I am not really super jazzed to be unearthing buckets of playthings, dishes, and Doritos packaging like one of the grave diggers in a Danish churchyard. The Hot Wheels cars and the wooden train tracks were the Yorick to my Hamlet. I handled them with gloom. I gazed at them and foretold their imminent return to the grass heap. It’s a tragic cycle of playroom to grave.
Looking on the bright side, there isn’t a fair, tormented maiden buried in the grass and the leaves and the garbage in my backyard mulch pile.
Just spiders. And a few Bob the Builder toys.