By Kathy Fawcett
I am a communication junkie. And as I once wrote, communication is King.
I found early on that my mom’s tendency to brood as a form of communication was a poor substitute for clearly stating expectations. I vowed that whatever flaws my own kids walked away with – they would have 1) manners, and 2) the skills it takes to let others know their feelings, frustrations and thoughts as they moved into adulthood.
Last week I got schooled.
The first time was at an actual school as I showed up for the last round of my son’s Quizbowl tournament at Grand Blanc Middle School, East. East of what, I wondered? I arrived with just that much information, thinking I knew where the building was. No busses, no cars…just one walker who told me that they recently built new identical Middle Schools, East and West. As I finally walked into GBMS East, the first thing I noticed was a lack of directional signage to Quizbowl, and not a soul to ask. Great. I picked a direction and wandered until I heard voices.
"Quizbowl? Gee, Mrs. Roberts, where’s the Quizbowl kids?" "Gosh Mrs. Smith, I believe they’re allll the way on the other side of the building. On another floor."
I guess the Quizbowl kids are so smart, they just instinctively know where to go in any school. But we poor parental shlubs need a hand, brother. Just a little arrow when I walked in would have been nice. Trying to find the room Ben was in without signage – by peeking through the tiny windows (while NOT distracting the kids who were trying to remember "Appomattox") was another challenge, but I finally found him.
It occurred to me that the clearest communication of the evening was Ben’s body language as he blew out of the room with the others. He greeted me warmly, briefly, and didn’t miss a step as he caught up with the cute, smart girl on his team so they could walk together to the next location, leaving me to eat his dust. There was nothing vague about the message my 14-year-old son sent me in the shiny hallways of East.
But the big bruise came from 18-year-old Alex this week. I can’t reenact the conversation that precipitated this comment from him on the phone – but our chat ended with him saying: "I can’t discuss this anymore with you right now, Mom. I’m not going to hang up on you like you hung up on me last night…we’ll just talk more about this later." Ouch, ouch, and double ouch.
Bruised, yet very proud. And as long as they continue to hold the door open for me, their mother, I’ll let them live to communicate another day.