Theresa Giarrusso is taking a few days off of blogging to tackle a couple of family and school projects. Keith Still, a mother of three, will be filling in this week.
Since time began, parents have looked for ways to communicate like grown-ups with kids in the room. Whether it’s a naughty suggestion as to what to do after the little tykes are asleep, a nice surprise for the wee ones (ice cream after dinner, anyone?), the occasional curse word, or just a laundry list of things that are none of the children’s business, we all have resorted to little codes or tricks to tell our partners what we’re thinking without informing the kids in the process.
It doesn’t matter when they’re babies, of course. But pretty soon, you resort to spelling out key words. “Should we take Johnny and Sally to the p-o-o-l today, or check out the new D-i-s-n-e-y m-o-v-i-e?” Spelling will buy you some time – until your crafty kids crack your code, learn to spell or both. We used to spell i-c-e when we were pondering whether to take the kids to Bruster’s or Ben and Jerry’s. Before they understood that i-c-e spelled “ice”, our girls had figured out the meaning of those three letters.
Some parents use foreign – or made-up – languages to communicate these types of things effectively. All of these techniques would be perfect if the children would just realize the conversation isn’t meant for them and go on about their business.
Whenever I think of these tactics, I am reminded of Vince Vaughn wearing a Baby Bjorn, covering a toddler’s ears, and then proceeding to link together a string of profanities in the movie “Old School”. Using this “ear muffs” technique was his character’s way of making sure little kids didn’t hear inappropriate grown-up talk. If Vaughn said “ear muffs”, the children would cover their ears, and the adults could speak their minds without employing the use of spelling or Pig Latin. The children acted like they didn’t hear a peep.
That’s not how it works in my house, though. “Ear muffs” would be useless. Spelling words, speaking in German or French, using abbreviated words, whistles or facial expressions merely pique the kids’ interest in our discussion.
We try not to have conversations that we don’t want the kids to hear when we know they are around and/or awake. But with three children roaming the house at any given time, one of whom is in middle school and staying up later at night, it forces us to have all of these talks between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. in our master bathroom – which is not ideal.
So how can adults have grown-up conversations uninterrupted by curious little ears? According to this article, more and more of us are doing what our kids do – texting each other. I’m not the world’s best texter, mainly because I cannot stand the way everything is abbreviated in text messaging. I understand why people do it; I just don’t like it. I will still type everything out fully, read my text message and edit where necessary before I hit send. All of this takes a lot longer to do, and ultimately removes any incentive for me to use text messaging. I do text a little – mainly quick messages to my husband, middle-schooler, and the occasional neighbor – but I don’t carry on real conversations through texting or instant messaging like many kids do. I think it would be strange to be sitting next to my husband, texting an entire conversation back-and-forth with him.
As our kids get older and all three begin staying up later and later, I may have to reconsider my stance on texting conversations. Or maybe there will be some totally new technology for me to be afraid of using.
How do you have grown-up conversations with kids around? Have you resorted to texting? Are you able to communicate as effectively through texting?
What kinds of conversations do you keep from your kids?