Growth Spurts: Which Came First – The Chicken or el Pollo?
When my family and I lived in Maryland, we had a neighbor from El Salvador named Fran (short for Francisco). He enjoyed coming to our house to practice his English, and we always enjoyed his visits. During one of these visits, Callie, who was only two years old at the time, decided to share one of her favorite books with Mr. Fran. As she flipped through the pages, she pointed to pictures of different things and said their names, and Fran thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with my little girl, who had once been too shy even to look at him. So in order to keep the exchange going, Fran decided to jump in on the picture-naming.
“Chicken,” Callie said as she pointed to one on the page.
“Pollo,” Fran pointed and chimed in.
“Chicken,” Callie replied a bit more emphatically.
“Pollo,” Fran retorted with a smile.
After a few more rounds of Fran egging (Couldn’t resist.) her on, my frustrated toddler finally looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, but that’s a chicken!”
As I relive this hilarious story, I am reminded of the many times in my life when there has been confusion or disagreement, and it hasn’t always been because of a language barrier. Rather, it’s aresult of either a lack of clear communication or a lack of patience in trying to understand one another. And it, unfortunately, often happens in each of our families.
I know that I personally get into trouble when I’m too tired or lazy to express myself clearly…or at all. Or if I simply assume that I understand what my husband or children are saying and don’t take the time to ask questions and get the full story or background. Then there’s the classic mind-reading that I sometimes expect from my husband and children, which obviously doesn’t happen. You’d think I’d know this by now.
Communication is a vital component of every healthy relationship, and we shouldn’t assume that our children will automatically be proficient in it. If we want our children to develop good communication skills, we need to be demonstrating this for and with them. We need to help them to see that problems can be solved and relationships can be strengthened through the art of communication.
Talk to each other. Listen to each other. It is well worth the effort. Communication can help you avoid those awkward situations where you throw your hands up in the air and march off, declaring, “I’m sorry, but that’s a chicken!” while the other person stands there thinking, “Isn’t that what I said?”