The words you choose to say something are just as important as the decision to speak. ~Author Unknown
During Ski Week, my younger son and spent the week hanging out together and doing a variety of activities; toward the end of the week, we visited my Dad and went out to lunch with him.
My 81-year old father is getting forgetful and his hearing isn’t perfect; to a 13-year old, spending time with his grandfather and his Mom could easily be considered boring. Lunch had progressed to the point that it was boring for him, so he pulled out his phone.
I politely asked him to put the phone away, which he did, only to pull it out a few minutes later and start up again; I took the phone and placed it in my purse so that we could continue with the conversation.
My son sat at the table and sulked; he didn’t want to engage in conversation and decided to sit at the table and not say a word. My Dad and I could see he was upset at having his phone taken away, but there was no way I was going to give it back to him.
We dropped my Dad off at his house and then proceeded home.
Once we arrived home, I told him I was disappointed in his rude behavior and his attitude; I was tired of seeing his head tilted down, glued to his phone. I was disappointed he didn’t engage in conversation with my Dad, his own grandfather.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I told him that Grandpa was getting forgetful and that I’d like the time we spend with him to be meaningful.
“I don’t know what to talk about or how to start a conversation” my son replied to me.
“What is one thing people don’t know about you?” I asked him.
“I like monkeys,” he said.
“What is one other thing people don’t know about you? I asked.
He thought for a moment before replying. “I can do 13 different accents.”
“That’s a conversation” I pointed out. “It’s not hard to start a conversation, it’s just a matter of being observant and asking questions. The next thing you know, the other person is talking and sharing about themselves and then asking you questions. That’s how you start a conversation. Start with a question.”
We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out and reading. By the end of the day, my son learned I once dreamed of being a nurse, but the site of blood made me pass out; he learned my Mom’s nickname for me was “Kare-Kare” and that once, many years ago, I dressed up as the Easter Bunny for work.
I learned the intricacies of Fortnite; I learned that my son still dreams of being a baseball player, and I learned that he has nearly 100 followers following his “live stream.”
He’s on his way to being a conversationalist: it just takes putting the phone away, tuning in to the other person, and getting curious.