When I was growing up, every summer we would take long car trips to different parts of the country. Inevitably, we would pass through a town where lived an older family friend whom we would stop and visit. I can remember some of the visits vividly. I can remember silently staring as my parents tried valiantly to get me to say something, anything. I would sit there mutely, wondering when we would leave and wish people would stop talking... to me, to each other. I was hardly a sparkling personality during those visits, but as is true of most children, was far more concerned about myself not at all about the adults in the room.
Well, parenting has a way of paying one back for ones childhood. Yesterday good friends invited me and the children to come and visit and go to the store to pick ice cream. It was an exciting sounding outing and the small people spent much of the day very excited about it. Life was good while we walked to get ice cream, brought the ice cream back to our friends' condo, and ate the ice cream. But since it is terribly rude to eat a gift of ice cream and run, we stayed and visited for a while. Remember my description of the shoe store? Well, it was just like that. After the ice cream was done and we were sitting in the living room, the mute children emerged in full force. Except this time it was mute children times however many I had with me at the time. It wasn't even as though they didn't know these people. But suddenly, when it came to sitting and chatting, all verbal abilities disappeared. I valiantly tried to get my children to talk about things they were interested in and received mumbled one word answers in return. It was the type of experience that as a parent makes you want to crawl under the sofa cushions. It was left to me to pick up the conversational slack and I did, all the while inwardly muttering at my children. And just like the shoe store, the second we exited the condo building, I was bombarded with words, words, words.
So here is my belated apology to my mother for the number of times I did this to her as a child. Your lessons must have paid off somewhere along the line, because I am now able to sit and visit and make conversation... just not in time to make your parenting life a little easier.
Perhaps there's hope for my own children.