Saturday, June 21, 2014

Communication: Ontogeny....

Mrs ERJ and I took a stroll this morning.  It is a great way to start a morning.  We chit-chat, plan, talk about kids, talk about or frustrations.  Many of our best talks occur during these walks.

Kubota is going into 9th grade next year and it is a great relief.  Eaton Rapids has Middle School for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.  High School is comprised of 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.

Middle School sucks.

One reason, I believe, that Middle School is particularly harrowing is because the kids are pushing away from their family and joining little cliques (Hitler Youth were Middle School age for a reason). 

Quick, what has 16 arms, 16 legs, 8 heads and one brain?
Answer:  A table of seventh graders.

Running in parallel with that social development is the development in communication.  Young children are extremely literal communicators.  They take every word at it exact, literal meaning...unless, of course, they spend a lot of time with Grandpa.

The next step in communication is "sarcasm" where there is still little nuance.  The message is the exact opposite of the literal meaning.  Sarcasm is decoded via the not-the-least-bit-subtle tone, facial expression and body language.  Sarcasm also fits this stage because it is integral to pecking order/dominance sorting. 

Many people wish there was a special font dedicated to sarcasm because it is difficult to inform readers of social media  when one starts to use sarcasm and feelings are frequently hurt as a result.  I try to avoid sarcasm because it tells the listener that you are functioning at the cognitive/emotional level of a 6th grade girl.  Few bosses have appreciated me after I called this to their attention.

Most of Kubota's clique have graduated from sarcasm and are now lying.  Finally, some subtly and nuance.  Mrs ERJ is quite disgusted with the bunch of them.  I take it in stride.  Having a well calibrated BS indicator is a valuable thing.  It is all about practicing decoding.

There is one kid in Kubota's band-of-brothers who Mrs ERJ is most concerned about.  He is a facile, fluent and enthusiastic liar.  His mother trained him.  She directed him to tell the waitress that he was 12, even when he was 13, 14 and now 15.  She gets the kiddy discount.

He is a pretty big boy.  I have seen him dunk a basket ball. His mother still has him lying to waitresses.  She is quite distressed that he lies to her and she is absolutely baffled as to why she cannot trust him.

We reap what we sow. 

My kids are not perfect.  Retiring has given me more time for introspection and I see, more and more, the hand I had in creating some of their imperfections.  I wish I had such clarity of vision when I was parenting.  It is certainly easier to see in other people's kids.

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