Off the Line: Life is not a straight road

Life is funny. Its little twists, turns and quirks serve to teach us that life is not a straight, unswerving road.

Karen Haviland

Life is funny. Its little twists, turns and quirks serve to teach us that life is not a straight, unswerving road stretching boringly from point A to point B.

Nope. Anyone is who past the age of a few hours old knows that what we want/expect and what we get are two totally different things most times.

Sometimes that’s a good thing because if fate hadn’t stepped in and limited me to one child, it’s likely that I would be the mother of 13. When I was a young girl and contemplating parenthood, 13 seemed like a magical number. After all, anyone could have 12 – that was a mundane number in my books. Thank goodness that little bit of magic didn’t happen.

I remember anticipating many things during parenthood. That first step, the first honest and toothless grin which couldn’t be explained away as being gas, the first time my child would call me mom, his first word.

I waited, and waited and waited for that first word. Every little “ga ga” and “goo goo” which popped out his mouth was examined by me, the mom, to determine if it was a real word or simply a slip of the tongue, so to speak.

I think most parents can relate. We wait with baited breath for that first utterance. We can hardly wait until they start speaking. Then comes the day they speak. You would think the occurrence was almost as holy as when Moses parted the waters. I remember picking up the phone and calling everyone I could think of to let them know my son said mama. Of course, I can now admit that the little pearl of a “word” that rolled off his tongue was likely a fluke. But back then, it was the world to me.

He can speak! He can speak!

Wow. Just wow.

What I hadn’t anticipated was a highly verbal and inquisitive child; a child who never stopped talking. That boy had a silver tongue. Coupled with an inquisitive nature, I’m sure you can imagine the decibel level in my home at all times. If I remember correctly, suppertime seemed to be the peak of noise.

Call me old-fashioned, but I was raised in a family which, no matter how busy we were, always ate supper together at the same table. I proudly carried that tradition on and valued those suppers. Those were the times we could catch up and reconnect. The only problem was twofold. First, as previously mentioned, my son had a wonderful vocabulary and was quite verbal. Secondly, he was a male child. Those of you with male children must know by now that the sounds that come out of some male children can be bizarre at times. My son was no different.

For some reason, suppertime was the time he chose to practice those sounds. And, him being a boy, he wasn’t too choosy either from where that sound came, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, supper times were quite noisy, even with just one child, and I tried hard not to discourage him in such things if it meant keeping the door of communication open. I am a firm believer that communication is likely one of our most valuable tools we can have.

As you can see, I lived through those years. You will too.

What confuses me, however, is the total lack of communication I sometimes observe between some people. It seems I see that more often than not when my husband and I go out to supper.

Here we are, two people who wrestle with who is going to get the first word in – two highly verbal and communicative people, just chatting up a storm across the table from each other. Sometimes, I will notice that there is a couple, or even a family, who doesn’t speak at all. Their meal is eaten mostly in silence, although there is the occasional grunt which I take to mean something like, “Pass the salt please.”

Like I wrote in the beginning; life seldom takes you to where, and how, you planned. But along the way you will be lucky enough to spend time with some pretty amazing people. Put aside your cell phone and practice the age old art of one-on-one communication. You might just be surprised the things you can learn and the power of communication.