I was watching a video last week via facebook that showed a baby, no more than two years old dancing on a table like there was no tomorrow. Truth be told, he was doing more than I ever could at that age or even now for that matter. He was on the beat, never lost his balance and kept at it for what I thought was an extremely long time.
I enjoyed it, but it reminded me of those old-time West Indian mothers who would look at you and them calmly ask, “You know your school work?” – if they figured that you knew something (which wasn’t your school work), a little too well. And when that question was asked, it wasn’t rhetorical. It was cause for concern – and for action. Meaning, stop whatever it was that you were doing.
Everybody talks about how much smarter our children are than we used to be, but for children who are supposedly more savvy than we were, some of them don’t read signals well, a number of them don’t know what a hint looks like, and others can’t see what’s coming from two feet away.
It took me a little while but I’ve realized that there are other things that completely go over their heads.
Take for instance the hard stare. This has absolutely no significance for them, because “the look” from back in my day apparently didn’t translate very well across the generations. Most of them probably think that we’re simply searching their faces for the solution to some unanswered question, when we’re really trying to understand how our own children became so daft.
Then there’s the repeated question. The true meaning is completely lost on them, so they don’t know that a parent repeating a question simply means that the first answer that was given wasn’t the correct one and that they need to come up with another one. It’s amazing that it takes them even longer to realize that causing us to repeat ourselves doesn’t buy them any time.
And finally, the silent treatment. They don’t know how to interpret this, so the poor things don’t realize that an unanswered question doesn’t mean that they weren’t heard the first time. So it stands to reason that they would also be clueless to the fact that a continued lack of response means that it won’t ever be answered – because there is no answer for a question that should never have been asked.
But there is yet hope, because some of today’s kids will grow up to be great negotiators. I know this because some kids treat the consequences of inappropriate behaviour as something to be included in a negotiated settlement. As in – am I willing to dispense three spanks instead of the customary six for this infraction?
The only problem I foresee is them knowing how far to push their luck. Because if they can’t understand the smoke signals, they’re not going to be able to read the tea leaves either.