Brian Andreas is one of my favorite poet/artists. His poems are called Story People. Sometimes they are profound and very often funny. Although the full effect can only be gotten when the words are accompanied by his illustrations, one of my favorites from him is called “Lost in Translation” and it goes like this:
“There are some days when no matter what I say it feels like I’m far away in another country and whoever is doing the translating has had far too much to drink.”
That is the perfect description of what happened today in our house when I attempted to help Maya construct a duct tape wallet. I was asked to demonstrate the process, but when I did, all my instructions & suggestions were met with a frown and the comment, “That won’t work.” Cut to about 20 minutes later, when I’m sure the steam was coming out of my ears, tears were dripping from Maya’s eyes and frustration was VERY high on both sides of the table. Many, many deep breaths were called for on my part, and when I had calmed down, I was able to ask Maya why, when she requested help and then was given it, she announced that each suggestion wouldn’t work? She answered, “That’s not what I said.” Ok, but that’s what I heard. Finally after much back and forth, I said, “So, when you told me my suggestion wouldn’t work, what you meant was that you didn’t think you could do it?” Bingo!
Afterward I felt that I should have known this, or at least figured it out in the moment, but add another item to the long list of ‘things I don’t always get that I probably should’. I assured her that next time I would remember this, but also mentioned that other people might not interpret her comments the way she meant them, and it might work better to say, “But I don’t think I can do it that way.” You know, just in case.
Once we had cleared the hurdles in communication, the day progressed smoothly. It’s amazing how much clearer things are, once you get the translation right.