When my son braved the brand new world of kindergarten, he learned that most words were “good” and some were “bad.” This new concept shocked him, and he wanted me to list all the “bad” words so that he would know what he could and could not say on the playground or in the classroom.
Not having a potty-mouth, I didn’t know how to respond. Finally, I came up with this solution. “If it’s a word that you’ve never heard me say, then you know it’s probably not a good word.” A few days later, my son returned home and said, “Mom, I’ve never heard you say the word oviparous, does that mean I shouldn’t use that word?”
We had hit a language barrier, and it wouldn’t be the last or only time. Fast forward four years and my son is on the swim team. One afternoon, he climbs out of the pool and tells me that he needs a G-string.
“Well, you need to talk to Dad about that,” I tell him.
He frowns. “Can you talk to him? And tell him I need a long one.”
Huh. He has a speedo, a towel, a pair of goggles, a swim cap—does he really need a G-string? An extra long G-string?
The next day on our way from swim practice, we have an almost identical conversation, except for this time, my son is bordering on panic. “I need the G-string!” he tells me, his voice quivering, and then he adds, “My concert is tomorrow.”
Then it hits me. He needs a G-string for his violin. That I can do. I’m a frequent shopper at the music store. We stop on our way home and get the G-string.
Sadly, our language barriers haven’t always been so easily bridged. I haven’t always been able to help my son with what he needs, because sometimes I didn’t understand, and sometimes he didn’t know how to tell me what he needed, because he didn’t even know for himself.
Life and love is like that. And the best we can do is to keep listening, and talking, even if sometimes we feel like we’re talking different languages.