Chatting, yakking, gossiping, shooting the breeze, spinning a yarn, flapping your gums, yammering, schmoozing, chit-chat, getting the lowdown, swapping lies. I love it all.
Taking part in long, interesting conversations with my friends or spouse is. But it has not always been a plus. When my fifth-grade son earned detention for talking in class, after dire warnings from the teacher, I couldn’t even feign surprise. Sharp memories came blasting forth and all I could do was laugh at the déjà vu.
When I was in fifth grade, the teacher warned us not to talk during the arithmetic test. But as naturally as breathing, I simply had to tell the girl across from me to stop kicking me under the table. My punishment was to memorize, and recite for the class, a very long poem about a little girl who talked so much she ran out of breath and could not blow out the candles on her birthday cake. The runaway flames burned down her whole house.
It sounds grim, but, in fact, it was funny. The best part was my teacher never realized that I enjoyed the heck out of making my peers laugh. A minor stand-up comedian was born that day. Even as a toddler, I drove my poor mother to distraction with my endless questions. I write this column in hopes of offering sustenance to all parents whose child does not suffer in silence and who rarely has an unspoken thought. I was one and look how swell I turned out.
Now, when I encounter a kid who just has to speak up whatever the consequence, I smile and remember. I believe the opportunities are boundless for the chatterers of the world. They will be the diplomatic corps, the great orators, the life of parties, the fascinating professor, the game show host. Abraham Lincoln talked a lot as a kid. I bet Jerry Seinfeld did, too.
Never mind that your yakkety child constantly breaks your train of thought to consider why the dog’s nose is wet or why we have toenails or why some people eat grubs or why you haven’t made lunch yet. Before long you will proudly watch your child become the toast of parties where everyone else is so nervous their lips are numb. These kids will give the wonderful toasts at weddings and make a morning over coffee something their friends will adore. They will liven up a dull meeting, calm an angry crowd and inspire people to do their best. They will be the great communicators.
Hey, it’s a noisy job, but somebody has to do it.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who still gets shushed. Contact her at [email protected].