Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

You type too much.

In 1960 there was a song that reached #3 on the pop charts: “You Talk Too Much.”  A few years later I was born.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Those were the very same words often spoken in my direction, as adults shook their heads and said, “You talk too much.”  Nearly every report card I had in elementary school had great grades, but contained the words, “She is a delight to have in class, but she talks too much” or some ever so slight variation on the phrase.  Even my friends got in on the action, as I was called many names throughout my childhood, many having to do with my loquaciousness.  Among them: Chatterbox, Magpie, Chatty Cathy and, what ultimately became my all-time favorite on the subject, The Squeaking Wheel (though I’ve yet to see the payoff of grease in any form).

Over the years I have worked reallllly hard to control my tendencies to over-talk.  Not so much because of the name-calling, but because as I got older I found that people truly fascinated me.  I wanted to know their stories, hear their opinions and I learned early on if you don’t shut your piehole, you miss a lot.  The discovery that the give and take of information, through more balanced conversation, was so much richer was positively thrilling to me.  Nowadays, if I have the compulsion to say too much, I simply grab a pencil or sit at the computer and babble to my heart’s content and nobody gets hurt.

Well, almost nobody.

There is a bit of a problem with being the kind of person who natters on through the written word.  One bit of good news is that the people you bother can start to read what you wrote, close you up and return sometime later, which eliminates the need to stop your onslaught of words, which might hurt your feelings.  However, if you’re hoping for a reply or some feedback and others aren’t as wordy at the keyboard or willing to write at all, you can get a little lonely and self-conscious writing into a vacuum.  Because the bottom line to not getting a response, no matter how you slice it, is being ignored.  That stings a little.

You can apparently “teach an old dog new tricks”, as Twitter and texting have helped me trim my long-winded ways, though I refuse to engage in the whole truncated, abbreviated mangling of language.  I still punctuate and spell things out because of the beauty of words.  It is the difference between broth and bouillon.  It’s just not as scrumptious if you skimp.

One of the most difficult things about my son’s diagnosis of autism was learning that language would probably be his greatest deficit.  We’ve endured a lot of symptoms together over the years — self-injurious behavior of chest pounding and head banging; exhaustive, non-stop stimming and spinning; opening and closing doors and cabinets a thousand times; bolting into traffic or large crowds of strangers if I looked away for even a split second; ear-piercing tantrums that left him flailing on department store floors and city streets; — but having the first seven years of his beautiful little life consist of little-to-no self-expressive language was the most painful to me.  Included with all of the therapeutic modalities we engaged (Occupational, Speech, Applied Behavioral Analysis, Floortime, GFCF diet, etc.) was my homegrown version of a game I called “Oh, you will talk” which mostly consisted of me repeating phrases in a variety of ways.  It was sort of the more than one way to skin a cat school of thought.  For example, if it appeared my son wanted a glass of juice I wouldn’t just give it to him.  First, I would come up with multiple words for him to choose from: cup, juice, beverage, drink, refreshment, libation (yes, libation – I have always said, “You shoot in the dark enough, eventually you’re bound to hit something.”) in the hopes that one of them would get through the food processor that was his brain.

My son is 14 now and about a year ago his father said, “Well.  You wanted him to talk!” and boy did I ever.  He is still developmentally delayed insofar as socialization and language comprehension, but he has a vocabulary that knocks my socks off.  Not always used appropriately (the other day when told I had no cash to give him he responded with, “This is a wasteland.”) but words flow out of him and I am beyond grateful.

Perhaps, as this year draws to a close, that is my wish and ultimate goal with all of the compulsive words of mine that reach the keyboard – to have words returned to me.  Maybe over dinner one night, while going through a pile of letters and emails someone with kind eyes will look at me and say, “Well.  You wanted them to write!”

Hmph.  I might type too much, but if you type into the dark enough, eventually you’re bound to hit someone, right?

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