Manic moments: The lost art of conversation
I remember the days when it was possible to have an entire conversation. All at once. Words strung in articulate sentences. With real pauses. Time to think. To appreciate the ideas of others. The art of conversation was a delicate and intricate dance of back and forth, knowing when to listen and when to speak…
These days my conversations, if one can grace them with the name, sound rather more like this…
“Hello Wendy how are… yes Thomas it is a BIG digger… Sorry, how are you Wendy is this your little girl… No May please DON’T poke Thomas in the eyes… And how is the feeding going? No Thomas stay here… Excuse me Wendy… THOMAAAAAAS (trailing away into distance as I run after errant child).
These days, conversations consist of brief spaces snatched from the midst of swirling chaos. Unfinished ideas, unfinished sentences, on a bad day I don’t even get to finish my words! Constantly interrupted by little hands and voices demanding attention and running commentary on the world around them. Sadly parenthood has destroyed my listening skills. The constant vigilance required of a toddler’s parent destroys any hope of being fully engaged. I leap into conversations before it’s my turn in the desperate hope I will be able to share my latest thought before the next toddler kamikaze moment.
And when I’m not shouting half finished sentences over my departing shoulder I engage in another form of conversation that goes like this…
“Digger mummy!… Yes Thomas it’s a digger….yeyow digger mummy!…yes Thomas it’s a yellow digger…. Biiiiiiig mummy!… yes Thomas it’s a biiiig yellow digger… Wheeeellls Mummy! Yes Thomas it’s a big yellow digger with wheels! Oooh look Thomas it’s an ORANGE digger! Somehow I don’t feel these conversations are improving my vocabulary.
On bad days I wonder whether I will ever experience the fine art of conversation again. I miss those long conversations with friends… talking for the sake of it…. days when I didn’t feel I had to cram ideas into the smallest possible space and time… when I actually had things to talk about and space to talk about them in.
But on my good days I’m realize that while May and Thomas may have consigned the art of conversation to a distant memory, they have taught me several key things about communication. They’ve taught me how to express an idea in the minimum amount of words – no waffle here! How to hold onto a train of thought – if you cant remember it’s not important! They’ve taught me to leap right in and talk about the important things – I might not get another chance. And… they’ve taught me to be gracious with bad listeners – after all I’m firmly in that category now.
Most of all they’ve taught me that communication is about connection. My kids have got that down pat. When Thomas tugs on my hand and says “Digger Mummy!” what he really wants is for me to stop and connect with him and the world around us. And after all isn’t that really what its really all bout?
And then I smile as I wave to Wendy as I run after Thomas running after the big yellow digger with wheels!