Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Have a Question

The Italian speaks quickly, determined to make his point and move on like a rapid-fire Nerf gun to the next on his list of discussion topics. He doesn't hold back. Ever.

He talks during the favorite song you're struggling to hear. He talks during dinner. He talks while watching television. He talks to himself in the shower. He talks when using the computer. He even talks when he's talking, sometimes tripping one conversation over another in his haste to express all the thoughts in his head.

In terms of vocabulary, the Italian has the best developed of the five people under our roof. He reads semi-voraciously -- a fourth grader reading at an eighth grade level -- and has the retention of a steel trap, so his stockpiled arsenal of words is varied and vast.

The German is more reserved. He often assumes a distant role, allowing others to take the lead in the doing while he absorbs through observation. No less intelligent than his twin brother, he is deceptively inquisitive. Make no mistake: his silence and the faraway look in his eyes are a facade.

When he does speak it is with great deliberation and lengthy pauses. Whether due to his dyslexia, or simply to a naturally laconic nature, discussions with the German require patience and assistive prompting when he's searching for the correct word or the best way to express a thought. On those rare occasions the German has something to say, it's important to brace yourself for the conversational equivalent of something akin to a cross between twenty questions and Mad Libs.

There are two ways in which these conversations begin. More often than not, he'll walk quietly up to you and state "I have a question."

When this happens, there is only a fifty-fifty chance of being posed a question to which he does not know the answer. It can often be a thinly veiled ploy to draw you into a conversation, or to get you to explain basic details, about something you've already discussed.

His other frequent conversation starter arrives in the form of a question. "Guess what?" the German will ask and wait for you to inquire.

Sixty percent of the time he will enlighten you about some nugget of information he learned during the course of his day. Thirty percent of the time he will recall some shared experience to reminisce about it with you. Ten percent of the time, by the time you respond to his "Guess what," he will have forgotten what it was he wanted to tell you.

But don't worry when that happens. If you're still in the mood for a conversation, all you have to do is find the Italian. Just follow the sound of his voice.

© 2011 Mark Feggeler


  1. Our son was an incessant talker, and also full of lots of questions. It drove us crazy. Do you ever scream (internally, at least) "Could you just be silent and accepting SOME of the time?"

  2. He does drive us crazy, but we secretly love every minute of it.