Communicate before angry button push

COMMUNICATING with your kids is like dieting, exercising or cleaning the kitchen floor. You know you should do it. You feel guilty for not doing it. And every Monday you promise yourself you'll make a bigger effort. But to be fair, it's just not that easy to communicate with kids, especially when they're your own.

For a start, the first few years they don't talk (it's a pity it's not until later you realise these were the golden years of parenting) and once they've learned to talk, you can't get them to shut up. It's one question after another: "Why do I have eyebrows?" "Why can't I have chocolate Paddle Pops for breakfast?" "Why do you and daddy have the bedroom door locked?" and "What happened to the real yellow Wiggle?"

Fast forward a few years and boys do nothing but grunt while the girls mix it up with a little yelling, a lot of dramatic sighs and some high pitched squealing (although it's a given that at this stage whining is still prevalent in both sexes).

And just when you think this phase is going to last forever, they go teenage techno, get a mobile and communication is never the same.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to be said for mobile phones. I'd be lost without mine. They're a wonderful invention and a great form of communication. How else would we find out just by standing in a supermarket queue that Phil isn't sure what size nappies to buy and Sandra is pretending to still be at the office because she's forgotten the babysitter wanted to knock off early.

It's hard to miss most adults talking on their mobile phones. They're loud. Especially in supermarkets.

Kids on the other hand are a whole other story. The only thing you'll hear when a teenager is on the phone is the fast and furious clicking of their grimy little fingernails and the odd snigger as they speed type their text messages.

Call me old fashioned but I'm pretty sure Graham Alexander Bell didn't spend all his time inventing the telephone just so we could go back to a form of letter writing.

If I sound a little bitter there's good reason. I still haven't mastered the art of texting. And, in my defence, I've gotta say it's not as easy as it looks. Firstly those letters on my phone are ridiculously tiny. And secondly you need the precision of a skilled surgeon to send a text. Text the message "good luck" without your glasses and you could easily be in trouble. Then there's the whole new text language thing to be learned. My youngest sent me a text the other day and I had to find an interpreter (someone under 25) to tell me what it said. Apparently "hru wud ily cya mwah" is text talk for "Hi Mum, how are you? What are you doing? I love you. Bye, big kiss".

Grateful as I was that my youngest was thinking of me, she should have been thinking of her dental appointment. She was late. It took me almost five minutes but I managed to text back, "Yr l8t 4 dentist appt where r u?". Her reply (which came back in under two seconds) was "yyssw kyho". I had to refer "yyssw kyho" to my interpreter. The translation? "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, whatever. Keep your hair on". My reaction? I'm still looking for the buttons.

Family Taming is a weekly humour column written by Wendy Andrews.

Topics:  opinion



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