Monday, March 15, 2010

Word Talk

Here, on our blog, where our communication is so dependent on words alone, without the help of facial expressions and body language, words take on significance not always present in the rapidity of conversation. Most of the time, I feel I am understanding what is being said and am communicating what I need to say, but there are always exceptions to the rule. I usually write with time constraints and hope I am conveying the right meanings. I first learned southern, and then English vernacular, and then childese, and I do realize I am still learning language.

My four-year-old granddaughter will learn a new word and overuse it until it becomes a familiar part of her vocabulary. A couple of weeks ago, the word was “depressed”. I have to admit that I still don’t know her meaning of that word.

Example 1:.) She was on the couch in the living room that shares a wall with the home office. The door to the office was closed. She jumped up and down on the couch for a while, then lay down on her back and then turned to her stomach and then piled the couch cushions and then pushed off from the coffee table to backwards jump on the couch. I watched while she was obviously being impatient and antsy and then called from the next room, “What are you doing, little missy?” “Oh, I’m waiting for Daddy to finish a phone call in the office to a client… then he might have to send a fax, because the client is so depressed.” (?!?)

Example 2.) The next day, her babies (dolls, animals, etc) were jumping on the bed and since they couldn’t do it by themselves, she had to help them. I told her to stop before she got hurt and she said it wasn’t her, it was them: And so I said, “If they don’t stop that, they’re going to get a time out.” She replied, “They can’t.” “Can’t what? Stop it? Or be given a time out? ” “They can’t stop. They’re too depressed.” (?!?)

Example 3.) She wanted to play Memory and thought of a way to ensure that I could not say I didn’t want to play. She put out all of the cards in very neat rows and worked diligently for quite a long time. Just as she got them all organized and was ready to enlist my help with the actual game, her little sister was cruising the play room and reached over and with one swipe of her elastic arm, messed up all of the cards. In a fury, she yelled, “Gigi, don’t you need to put her down for her nap? She needs to be depressed!” (?!?)

I tried to connect the dots in those usages, but didn’t get very far. It did make me think of some of the words that I have contended with in the past. When one of my daughters was just about four, we had a record album of children’s Bible stories that were told in song. There was a song about Daniel in the lion’s den and to explain why the lions didn’t eat Daniel, it said, “God gave them all lockjaw.” The daughter was singing it, “God gave them all slockjahl.” I asked, “What is slockjahl?” She said, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe something like sloppy joes, but with chicken.” On another children’s collection, an attempt was made to explain being born again. The song went, “Bullfrogs and butterflies, they’ve both been born again.” This time, the daughter sang it (quite frequently and quite loudly) “Bullfrogs and butterflies, they won’t bimbo again.” I was afraid to ask what that meant…And so you see, psychology, theology and sociology all out of the mouths of babes. What will they say when they get older? (Read this blog to find out) No wonder communication is such a challenge.

Posted by The Editor for Gigi.

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