Every day I find myself repeating these same words, “what did I say?”. Why? Because the person I am talking to is not appear to be actively listening! I’m pretty certain that they heard me the first time, so I don’t repeat the specific request and instead ask “what did I say?”. I’ve put a name to this phenomenon it’s called ‘Mommy deafness”, the inability to listen to one word she says.
To be frank, my daughter isn’t the only one that suffers from this. My husband, the dog and definitely our cats use this technique to ignore me. I expect this out of the cats because they don’t follow any social protocol. When the dog does this, she tells me that “she is too involved to stop what she is doing and that she will get back to me later and maybe we can do lunch?”. After living with a non-verbal person, I have developed the telepathy to understand what the dogs thoughts are. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, this telepathy does not, nor should it be translated to humans. As for my husband, he pretends he doesn’t hear so he doesn’t have to, stop what he is doing, let the barking dog in, or do any job on the “honey-do” list. When I ask my husband a question, and there is no response, I then ask “who do you think I am talking to?”. Then with feigned dismay he says “oh, I didn’t know you were talking to me?”. I then say “well, you are the only person here that can talk and actually answer a question!”.* I then lament on an on how no one in this family talks to me and that I would appreciate some conversation! This is usually the time where I make a point to say “and THIS is why I have the pets because at least THEY usually make an effort to communicate”. The reality is, the pets listen better because I’m the one that oohs and ahhs when they have done something they are proud of. I am also the one that feeds them. For these reasons, this is why husband’s cat lays at my feet every night. All I want, all anyone wants, is to be validated when they are talking.
When my daughter uses this strategy, it is because she learned that she can wait me out. I would come to her aide and I would do what I had asked her to do. She is so smart and manipulative! She has learned how to play off my gullibility. I’ve fallen for this more times than I care to admit. The tables are now turned because she does have a voice through her computer. If she tries to get something in a non-verbal way, I put my hands in the air and say “I don’t know what you want?”. Then she answers or complies through her AAC voice. Nine times out of ten, I do know what she wants, however, this isn’t the same as knowing what she thinks. It is important that she has to makes the effort to express herself. I am done feeding her grapes while she lazes by the pool.
I’m pretty sure that husband learned this “Mommy deafness” technique from daughter. In order to combat his silence, I have developed a strategy. If I want to engage him in conversation, I invite someone over for dinner. Yes, the power of food works on humans as well. Oh how charming and chatty husband is when we have company! He then answers all my questions and volunteers a great deal of information. Oh how I love having guests! I enjoy what they bring to my table.
if you are concluding that I talk too much or expect too much, then you would be mistaken. Wait, If I really think about it, sometimes I don’t shut up, however, this isn’t about me, ha ha. Getting back to my point, everyone has learned the power of the spoken word. Sometimes what is not said has more impact. My favorite sales technique is “he who talks first loses”, however, I really don’t like this effective tactic to be used against me.
We all use the power of language in different ways to manipulate the world around us. As for my dear, dear husband, in September, we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. After all these years together, we do have this freaky ability where we can look at each other and know what the other is thinking, however, there is nothing more I enjoy than to have a conversation, hear his voice and confirm that we are indeed on the same page.
*at the time of this writing, Jess didn’t answer many questions, however, this has changed. The fall of 2015, not only is she responding when questions are asked but her responses are reliable. It’s exciting 🙂