A Failure To Communicate
by Gina Valley
What we have is a failure to communicate.
When my son told me that his homework was done last night, I thought he meant that his homework was done. No no poo poo.
“My homework is done” means “I forgot to bring home my book, so I can’t possibly do this homework” or “I have stopped doing my homework, because I don’t want to do anymore” or “I haven’t even started doing my homework” or “I want some candy” or countless other things. But, and this is what is truly important to remember, “My homework is done” does not mean “My homework is done.”
“My homework is done” is not the only misleading phrase in the child/parent language lexicon.
“My room is clean” is another family communication train derailer. Amateur parents think that “My room is clean” means “My room is clean.” Not so, my friends.
“My room is clean” means “I have stopped cleaning my room” or “I never actually started cleaning my room” or “I found a cool dead bug in my room” or “I have rebuilt every one of my Lego vehicles. Twice.” or “I sprayed Febreze in my closet and you can’t really smell that ‘something died in here’ sneaker-smell as much now” or “I pushed everything from the floor of my room out into the hall” or “I haven’t even been in my room.” But, “My room is clean” does not mean “My room is clean.”
“I fed the dog” means “I have at some point in my life fed a dog, possibly even our dog, on some occasion, but probably not today” or “The dog ate 2 pairs of my socks and my report about the Mayans, so I think he’s all set food-wise for today” or “The dog food smells gross and I don’t want to touch it” or “I left the jar of peanut butter out, so the dog fed himself” or “Why do I always have to do everything?”. But, “I fed the dog” does not mean “I fed the dog.”
When parents say “I’m ready for bed,” they’re ready for bed. Not so with children.
“I’m ready for bed” means “I am ready to start asking questions about the JFK conspiracy, why the sky is blue, and where babies come from” or “I have not bathed, showered, brushed my teeth, put on pajamas, or used the loo, and, the second you tuck me into bed, I will insist on doing each of those things” or “I am not in my bed nor near my bed, and I have no intention of lying down in, much less remaining in my bed anytime soon” or “I’m hungry and thirsty.” But, “I’m ready for bed” does not mean “I’m ready for bed.”
Usually, “It’s mine” means “I want it” or “I took it” or “I like it” or “I found it” or “It’s yours, but I’m keeping it” or “It was in my closet” or “I shoplifted it while you were schmoozing with the butcher” or “I will not give it up without an explosion on par with a thermonuclear detonation.”
Unless a child says “It’s mine” about a mess.
Then, it really is his or hers. But, it’s also a sign that you need to head to the pediatrician immediately, because no well-child admits a mess is theirs.
Laugh Out Loud!
What phrases in your house need translating? Do you have a failure to communicate? Shoot me a comment. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say. You’re here already anyway, so, you might as well go for it.