Home > Uncategorized > English! Do you Speak it?

English! Do you Speak it?

Do you ever have times in your life when you feel like no one is hearing you?  Don’t you wonder if you have somehow begun speaking a foreign language without realizing it?  Do you, like me, have nearly irresistible urges to go all Samuel L. Jackson on the world?

“Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you.”
photo courtesy of ugo.com

I strongly believe that this is the reason women are so often labeled “nags.”  I’m not nagging, it’s just necessary for me to repeat myself thirty-two times in order to make my point.  And even then, more often than not, I have been so unclear and confusing that one has no option other than to simply interpret my words the best way they can.  Through much observation and careful study, I have developed the following guide for interpretation.

The Kids

What I say:  Kids, I need you to (do chores, homework, get ready for bed, get ready for school…)

What they hear:  Please go into the other room, turn on your favorite television show or video game and enjoy yourself.  You have no other responsibilities, so don’t even worry about it.  Also, please close the door so that I won’t disturb you with my incessant shrieking.

My response:  Incessant shrieking, of course.  I am certain, even though we don’t know our next door neighbors well, that they know both of my children’s full names and what their nightly chores are and also that my children are not capable of remembering to brush their teeth unless they are reminded five times at increasing volume.

The Doctor’s office

What I say:  I have questions about this new medicine, can you please address these concerns?

What they hear:  I am going to be a completely ignorant and hysterical mother.  Please brush off my concerns and tell me things that make no sense.  I won’t know the difference, I’m just a stupid non-medically-trained person who needs reassurance with no substance.

My response: Since it’s generally unwise to be snotty and rude to people who have any measure of control over you or your children, I hold my temper.  And repeat my (valid) questions.  And ask for help.  And tell the nurse in no uncertain terms that I will not sit idly by for two weeks hoping that a medicine that is not working, will magically start working, while my child is clearly getting worse on the medicine.  I don’t buy it.  I might not have a medical education, but I do have common damn sense and I have a right and a need for information and help.  God knows I’m paying enough for it.  We’re already hundreds of dollars in the hole, even after our very good insurance has paid, and we have a couple of inconclusive test results and worthless prescriptions and a best-guess diagnosis.  The least you can do is talk to me like I’m an intelligent person.

At Work

What I say:  I don’t know/remember how to do that.

What they hear:  I know exactly how to handle that issue, but I’m not going to tell you because I’m spiteful like that.

My response:  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I just don’t know!  There are people at work who are absolutely convinced that I know how to do everydamnthing.  While that’s flattering, it is also annoying as hell when they won’t let it go.  Sometimes I don’t know.  Sometimes I could figure it out, but I don’t have time and you should figure it out on your own.  Sometimes you just need to ask someone else.  Virtually all the time, you need to accept my answer and leave me alone.

With Hubs

What I say:  Hubs, can you please help me with this chore?

What he hears: Please just sit there and enjoy your baseball game/alien show/episode of “How it’s Made” while I take care of everything.  You worked all day and I just sat at a desk for ten hours and ate bonbons, so I’m totally refreshed.  No worries, I’ve got this.

My response:  Okay, maybe I’m not being totally fair.  He’s not always like this.  It’s mostly just when I have had a spectacularly bad day and need help with things that I normally handle just fine on my own.  Or the days that I’m especially tired and overwhelmed.  Or the days that I am tired of the damn baseball on tv.

The Cat

What I say: No, Squeaky, don’t lie on the laptop.  I will pet you, just lie down over here.

What she hears:  Please get all up in my face and make sure you lie down on whatever else might be taking my attention.  I am completely incapable of petting you unless you have my undivided attention, so I’m relying on you to eliminate all distractions.

My response:  Well, duh.  I give her my undivided attention.  She’s my cat and she’s old.  She’s also more devoted to me than all of my family members combined, and she’s perfectly capable of smothering me in my sleep if I neglect her.

She asks for nothing, except every drop of love and attention that I have to give.

Clearly, I bring these frustrations on myself.  Until I improve my communication skills, I have no right to expect people to understand me.  It’s perfectly reasonable to think that “Go brush your teeth” means “Vanish into your bedroom until I forget that you were ever born.”  In the interest of self-improvement, I hereby vow to continue to educate myself in the ways of speaking with clarity.  And volume.  Lots and lots of volume.

  1. October 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I teach high school, and one day last week I had five students ask me the same question in one 45 minute class period. I felt as if I were caught in a Twilight episode, and while I was speaking English into the air, it morphed into Swahili before reaching their ears.

    • Shel
      October 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      I am so glad I’m not alone…and I totally understand the feeling, although I can’t imagine a whole room full of teenagers. Thanks for reading!

    • October 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

      That’s so funny–I teach, too. I usually just say, “Mr. So and So, can you please inform XXX what I just said to YOU when YOU asked that two minutes ago.” I always get an intelligent, “Whaat?” Hmmmm.

  2. October 15, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Love this. Sometimes I offer to switch languages. Sometimes I repeat myself. Sometimes I wonder if I should give up and start signing…

    • Shel
      October 15, 2012 at 11:19 am

      If my children are any indication of the general public of children (and I have to assume that they are…), I’m just amazed that teachers aren’t all certifiably insane. After I’ve repeated myself a few times, I generally go mute and just stare at them. Eventually, they get it.

      • cafecasey
        October 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        I stare at my running watch a lot…I say that I’m timing the lost moments so I can repay the taxpayer in the form of homework… and, like the national debt, I pay w interest.

  3. October 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Love this post! I can relate to this, yes I can.

    • Shel
      October 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Thanks for your comment…it is such a relief to know I’m not alone. 😉

  4. October 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Re: “The Kids” — have you planted a bug in my house??? ~ Kat

    • October 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Kids lack originality, don’t they? Ha!

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