Thursday, June 27, 2013

Breakdown in Communication

We've been pretty lucky, as parents of a teenage daughter go.

Here we are, almost sixteen years into this parenting experiment, and we all appear to love each other and get along fairly well. Our Daughter is sweet-natured, doesn't like foul language, dotes on her younger brothers (whether or not they want her to -- although they usually want her to), earns excellent grades at school, stays active in music and dance, doesn't talk back to her parents, and still laughs at my fart jokes.

What more could a parent ask for?

Okay, maybe the ability to communicate and share information utilizing complex sentence structures and multisyllabic words when texting. And also the ability to read simple text messages and fully understand them before responding. For example, here is a brief conversation from April:

    Me: "I can pick you up at 3:45 from school or from the rink later."

    Our Daughter: "I get out of school at 3:45."

    Me: "Okay. I will pick you up at 3:45."

    Our Daughter: "Um why?"

    Me: "I though you were asking me to. Just let me know when you want me to pick you up."

    Our Daughter: We will be at the rink around 5:45."

    Me: "Okay. Now. Do you want me to pick you up from the rink at 5:45?"

    Our Daughter: "Yes!!!!!"

For the record, adding seventeen exclamation points does not convey any more meaning to me than one exclamation point. I'm also not a huge fan of emoticons -- those little smily, winky faces that are supposed to let me know how you feel at any given moment in time. That's what words are for. Long ago, by which I mean the early 1990s, people knew how to express disappointment without book-ending the word "sad" with matching frowny-face emoticons.

At least we have moved beyond the days of the one-letter answer. Having graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in English, I'm always thrilled when my children respond to a lengthy, multiple choice question with the moronically simple, unhelpful, uncapitalized and unpunctuated response: "k." If I'm planning dinner and I send a text to ask if you prefer corn on the cob or broccoli with your grilled chicken, "k" is not a valid response. If I ask whether your boyfriend is eating dinner with us or going home to eat with his parents, "k" is a relatively answer-free return message.

Some day soon, when I find myself babysitting my grandchildren and Our Daughter texts from some fancy dinner across town to ask if her offspring have been fed and bathed and put to bed on time, I will wait a full thirty minutes to respond with a simple "k!!!!!!!!!"

© 2013 Mark Feggeler

1 comment:

  1. OR you can fill their gullets with espresso and candy right before she picks them up...That would be mighty sweet revenge.