Those Straight Talkin’ Beach Balls

I have a bit of a problem.  Actually, it’s more than a bit of a problem—it’s kind of a big problem, and it’s caused more than a few ruptures in my past relationships, but I’m working on it, and thanks to my work as a teaching artist at a state-of-the-art early childhood program, I’m learning from the best.

My problem, you see, is that I have a hard time speaking up when something’s bothering me (like the whole beach pass vs. summer in Europe thing).

Fortunately, my three year olds do not.

Last month, a particularly tiny beach ball came running up to me, tugged on my sleeve and pointed to his face.

“Hey Lady,” he announced (he still has trouble remembering my name).  “My eyes are crying!”

Two seconds later, he was back bouncing along with his friends so I’m not sure exactly what his eyes were crying about but obviously he felt better after unburdening himself.

A few days later, one of my four year olds turned to me and said, without prompting of any sort, “I’m sad.”

Not “So-and-so pushed me” or “I want to go home” but simply, “I’m sad.”

How simple was that?

It turned out that his woes were in fact due to the usual trials and tribulations of being four years old (So-and-so had pushed him, and as a result he did want to go home) but I couldn’t help but wonder how much easier my life would be if I’d retained the communication skills I had as a preschooler.

Then I could say things like “I am tired and I would like to take a nap,” as opposed to “Would it be too much to ask for a cup of coffee???”

Or “I am not your friend anymore!” instead of “This relationship really isn’t working for me but maybe it’s just bad timing?”  (Which is, admittedly, what I kept telling myself about Date #7 during what I’ve come to refer to as my own personal Dark Age.)

Or “I’m hungry” as opposed to, “Yeah… you know, I wouldn’t mind a bite to eat.”

Of course, in order to succeed in life with so little finesse, I’d have to work on my preschooler survival techniques (cutting in line, refusing to share, throwing temper tantrums to prove my point and coughing without covering my mouth to infect my enemies with various communicable diseases) but I’d like to think there’s some sort of happy medium to be had.


13 Responses to “Those Straight Talkin’ Beach Balls”

  1. Nicole Basaraba

    I’m totally with you on this one Kat. I’ve learned, being in Euope, that its a total “English-person” thing to do. A lot of non-native English speakers have often asked my why don’t I just say what I mean. It also could be more true of women than men. Life might be a whole lot easier if we just said what we felt/meant. Good thought for the day. 🙂

  2. Landlord

    I didn’t used to sugar coat, as those of you who’ve known me for a while would agree, but then I began to be more “ladylike” and adopted the “passive” speak, and now I waver between the two, depending on who I am addressing and what I want/need to accomplish. It’s tiring!

    Quaker speak, or being blunt, or “speaking plain” can be unnecessarily hurtful too, this has got me thinking now~

    • Dr. Amanda Morris

      I’m with the beach balls…sometimes to my detriment. I’ve never been a passive, ladylike communicator – I always speak plain, and as Landlord has suggested, this can result in hurt feelings. Or defensive, if in a work situation. However, in my personal life, I wouldn’t hesitate to say what I want/expect/need/hope for. That ability to say what you want directly and clearly is, I believe, more ladylike because it is courteous to the recipient and honest. Open, honest communication in a relationship is one it its cornerstones. Without that, the relationship will fail. If you want to spend the summer in Europe, tell him and offer a compromise if you’d like him to join you for all or part of the adventure. Maybe you stay six weeks and he comes in for two of them. Just a thought. But we women sometimes tend to makes things way more complicated than they need to be. 😉

  3. sarahnsh

    I generally say what I’m thinking especially if I’m with someone I trust, but I do do that double speak with my fiancee sometimes and I’m not quite sure why I switch to it. Or, say if I’m in trouble and behind at work if someone asks me in the moment if I need help I normally say, “Well, I wouldn’t mind it…” and if I’m really desperate I’ll flat out say “Yes!”

  4. aka gringita

    LOL This reminded me of Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps
    Women tend to be indirect. In general, being too direct feels like being rude or demanding to us. Indirect: “Gosh isn’t that bracelet lovely?” Direct: “I would like you to buy me that bracelet for (gift-giving occasion).”

    Two people saying the same thing:
    Woman says: Omlets sound good, don’t you think? (Getting consensus for the idea. Not understanding how women tend to speak, this sounds to men like a question, and not even necessarily a suggestion. Mutual frustration ensues.)
    Man says: I want an omlet. Let’s have them for breakfast. (States the facts. Comes across to women as being authoritative and inconsiderate of other opinions. Mutual frustration ensues.)

  5. Philly Tap Teaser

    Speaking directly is a very necessary thing in work and in life! And it’s been a very hard thing for me to master. I’m in a job where I have to command respect from people, internally and externally, on a daily basis. It is never not scary, but when I get nervous, I just don’t think about it too much, take a deep breath, and put myself out on a ledge! The flip side of it, though, is that you have to be ready to defend your position in a tactful way, take criticism and feedback. Women are definitely socialized to be passive speakers, and it’s hard to break out of that mindset and go toe-to-toe with aggressive people (men and women alike). At some level, females just want to make everyone happy – if that’s nature or nurture, who knows. But, I’ve found that if you want to realize your dreams, you have to assert yourself, because absolutely nobody else is going to do it for you!

  6. Jess Killmenow

    I love your writing about your beach balls. It’s endearing, entertaining and informative – and it’s great to be reminded of what we had when we got here. Important work, I think.

  7. N

    🙂 Thankyou all for the smiles I had reading u Kat and all the comments that followed!


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