“Heredity is what sets the parents of a teenager wondering about each other.” —Laurence J. Peter
Our son hadn’t even discovered the joy of conversing with friends through a phone created from two soup cans and a long string before he started begging us for a cell phone. We held out as long as we could, but when he turned fourteen, we finally relented. Two years later as my husband and I sat on the couch and listened to one of his phone conversations, we turned to look at each other in amazement.
“He’s a genius conversationalist, isn’t he?” my husband smiled.
I nodded in agreement.
My son sat on a stool in the kitchen—a cell phone held to his ear with one hand—a sandwich in the other. With great gusto, he took a bite that caused half the sandwich to disappear in his mouth. “Yup,” he mumbled into the phone. He listened intently, taking another bite that left only a piece of crust in his hand. He leaned back in the stool, stared at the ceiling, and then said, “Nope.”
“I wonder what he’s talking about,” I whispered to my husband.
“I have no clue,” he answered.
My son licked his finger and then began attaching leftover crumbs to it like it was a magnet. For a moment he stopped, looked at the ceiling again, and then said with a very serious face, “Funny.”
“How much do we pay a month for our cell phone service?” my husband asked.
“One hundred and fifty dollars,” I answered, “It’s quite a bargain, especially when we consider how well he’s learning to communicate with others.”
A few seconds later, my son said, “Later,” into the phone and flipped it shut.
As he walked past us on his way to the computer in the basement, I wanted to tell him dinner would be ready shortly, but I knew better. A few minutes later, I sent him a text that took me 10 minutes to compose, “Dinner is ready.”
My husband looked over my shoulder. “Hey, you’re really getting a lot faster!” he complimented.
Just then my phone beeped. I flipped it open and sighed as I read my son’s lengthy response, “K.”
After he trudged upstairs and plopped himself in the chair next to me, I asked, “So, how was your day?”
“Good,” he said as he piled mashed potatoes on his plate and began stuffing roast beef in his mouth.
“Anything exciting happen?” I continued doggedly.
Now it was his turn to sigh. “Mom,” he slowly answered, “N-o.”
I turned to my husband, “Did he ever speak more than two words at a time?”
My husband shrugged his shoulders. “I can’t remember.”
As we both stared at our son shovel food in his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in three days, he stopped, looked at us, and said, “What?” He pushed his chair back, carried his plate to the counter, and said—you guessed it—“Later.” He disappeared into the depths of the basement once again.
“I think he gets this from your side of the family,” I said to my husband as I cleared the rest of the dishes from the table.
“My family is so talkative that the Chatty Cathy doll was modeled after us,” he answered, “On the other hand,” he said as he pointed to me for emphasis, “You come from a shy, quiet species not known for their prolific conversations.”
I glared at him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a retort which only added fuel to the possibility that I had somehow unknowingly passed down a gene to my son that would cause him to conduct one-word conversations for the rest of his life.
As my husband and I rinsed dishes and loaded the dishwasher in silence, I knew we were both needlessly worrying if our combined DNA had somehow become as scary a mixture as ammonia and bleach. I finally broke the silence, “I think he’s a great kid,” I said, “And I think there’s nothing wrong with one-word conversations, do you?”
My husband grinned, “Nope.”
See? I always knew he got it from my husband’s side of the family.
By Vicky DeCoster (All Rights Reserved)