Raphael loves to play with his friend Drew. They’re still at an age where very little cooperative play takes place. Mostly what they do is what’s called parallel play. They play NEAR each other, you understand. Often they even play the same game or with the same toys. But each boy doesn’t really RELATE to what the other is doing. It makes for interesting conversation.
Raphi: AAAAAAGHH! The round robot is going to EAT YOU!
Drew: I have new shoes.
Raphi: Once, I peed in the back yard.
Drew: PEE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Drew: I like cheese.
Raphi: I have a dog.
Drew: My sister hurt her knee right here.
Raphi: PEE! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
See? They’re talking AT each other, but not much meaningful communication is getting through. Today I’m not sure I did any better than they do, much of the time.
This morning I raced downstairs, skidded around the corner, and snatched up the phone just as it stopped ringing. The caller ID declared it to be a call from my grandparents I’d missed. Tre and Max were apparently trying to kill one another in the back yard, so I went outside to break up the skirmish before I called my grandparents back. Grandpa answered with a hearty, “Well HELLO!”
“Hi, Grandpa, It’s me, Kira.”
“KIRA! What can I do for you today?”
“Were you trying to get ahold of me? I missed the phone…”
“What? No, I didn’t call you. Alyce, did you call Kira? [pause] No, we didn’t call you, dear. It must have been someone else.”
“Oh.” I paused for a moment, while I contemplated for a moment whether or not there was any kind way to tell them that yes, they had called. Nope. “Ok then. Sorry to bother you.” We chatted for a moment, then said our good byes. I noticed my cell phone was making a low beep, indicating a message. I punched at the buttons and listed to my voice mail. It was Grandpa.
“Kira, dear, this is Grandpa. Could you call us? We need to ask you something. Thank you! Bye!”
I looked at the phone in my hand for a moment, then shrugged and decided to wait until they remembered their request. Three phone calls, no communication. This is the information age.
I was assembling a lunch to take with us to PE Plus when Raphi wandered into the kitchen.
“Hey there, punkin. Can you go put your socks on, please?”
“Mama, can I have a yogurt?”
“Yes, but first put on your socks.”
“But Mama. Mama. Max PUSHED me.” The memory of his mistreatment caused him some distress, and he started trying to work up a tear or two.
“I’m sorry to hear that, honey. Go put your socks on.”
He sighed and abandoned the effort to cry.
“Can I give Carmi a treat?”
“RAPHAEL. PUT YOUR SOCKS ON NOW PLEASE.”
He looked at me sharply.
“Are yoo talkin’ to me?”
Trying to, baby. Trying to.
I dialed into my voicemail to hear my messages, and the first voice I heard was Max. He likes to squirrel the phone away into another room and call his very own phone number. Then he can leave looooooong, dramatic messages, complete with little songs and stories. It’s like performing, but no one looks at him, you understand. Win/win.
“Hi there. This is…MARK! [wave of giggles at his deceit] I was calling…to…SING TO YOU! Ahem. Oooooold MacDonald had a farm! E I E I O! And on that farm he had a…MARK! [new storm of giggles] E I E I O! With a MARK MARK HERE [this time he dropped the phone from laughing so hard. After some time, he recovered enough to pick the phone back up] So, that’s all for today. And remember! This is MARK!”
What do you think? Imaginative quirk or cry for help?
So. Today was a full day of talking, but not what you’d call a full day of communication.