Buckaroo is quite a conversationalist these days, but his four-year-old topics of interest vary greatly from mine; he prefers to chat about cars, heavy machinery, and Busytown, while I . . . don't. Lately, while conversing, he'd stop me in the middle of my response and demand that I respond differently, sometimes shouting and kicking the floor in frustration.
I couldn't understand his irritation and kept insisting that my response was perfectly valid. Honestly, I was thinking, who'll talk to him if he tries to control both sides of the discussion?
Then one day we were driving, and he was telling me his many and varied thoughts about the rock pile that adorns our dam. When he made a slightly convoluted statement I didn't understand, I said what I usually say, which is, "Oh, right," while distractedly shuffling songs on the iPod.
And then he became quite belligerent and kicked the back of my seat.
"Don't say, 'Oh, right!" he shouted.
"Ok," I said this time, instead of arguing. "What would you like me to say?"
His suggestion involved bathroom humor (his lovely new interest), so I'll save you from that bit of conversation, but we finally agreed that I could say, "Fluffernutter! Oh, right."
But while we brainstormed silly words I remembered something that happened a long time ago.
When I was thirteenish, my friend and I were walking home from school, and she was dissecting new gossip about Duran Duran, and I was only half listening because I was really more of a Michael Jackson fan, which we both knew but never discussed. Also, I really wanted to chat about my latest crush and any possible clues that he might like me, but that conversation had worn thin with her.
So there we were, plodding past the strip mall, when she interrupted her monologue and huffed, "I can tell when you're not listening because you always say, 'Oh, uh-huh, right.'"
And she wasn't wrong.
Well, apparently my conversational bag of tricks hasn't changed much. I realized that with all of his shouting demands and flailing limbs, Buckaroo was trying to say the same thing my friend was trying to say 25 years ago, "Please listen to me." Duh.
Despite his ineloquence, not only did Buckaroo finally make his point, he gave me a tool-- a silly word-- to snap me out of my reverie, whether or not I want to be snapped, so I can pay attention to him.
Now that I'm really pushed to listen, though, I'm wondering if I can say, "Let's talk monster trucks for two more minutes, and then I'd like to discuss the impact of social media on the publishing industry. Whaddya say?"