Time was when I would have marked myself down as a fair conversationalist. I suppose I’ve been brought up to suss out any given situation and adapt my conversation style to suit. Through my work I’ve developed that ability and could, in the majority of cases, be taken just about anywhere and be trusted not to show myself or my companions up in any way.
Since having our little girl, however, I’ve noticed my skills in the area of conversation have changed somewhat. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I can still enter into a half decent conversation given the right timing, location and situation. On the other hand, catch me on the wrong day, at the wrong time and with a marauding toddler in tow and the experience could be a whole other kettle of fish.
One situation in which I can pretty much be depended upon for a never ending source of ‘stimulating’ conversation is with other parents. Trust me, this isn’t a skill I set out to perfect, but with Holly as my constant companion I seem to find myself in just the perfect position to speak to other parents on topics unfathomable to the unaccustomed. And at great length too. And thus my skill for the art of conversation has change immeasurably.
In my life BH (Before Holly) I was adept at chit chat about the weather, about the recent news, about (certain aspects of) politics, about the state of the economy, the state of the roads. I’d happily enquire after the health and wellbeing of the families of others, extol at length the fitness of my own family and slot in to any conversation I felt it polite to do so. In recent months, I’ve managed to amuse even myself in the realisation that my current areas of expertise, as well as those around me, can be summed up as follows: one’s capacity to hang out washing with the inclement weather we’ve been experiencing this year; the marvellous art that is cooking for children (and most especially disguising all that is vegetable); the amount of water one child drinks when compared to another; the length and ferocity of tantrums, as well as their triggers and ways of ending said tantrums; the pros and cons of various toddler snacks; the frequency and consistency of soiled nappies; potty training and birthday parties. And several other variants thereof.
And yes, these topics of conversation are totally and utterly acceptable (nay, compulsory) between parents. Spare a thought for my poor husband who, following each and every stressful day’s work teaching and dealing with adults young and old(er), comes home to be bombarded with news from ‘the world of toddler’, including new words, refined skills and updates on eating and toileting habits aplenty. He loves it really.
But if you do happen to bump into me while I’m out and about, please do try, if you will, to engage me in a more adult conversation. Following a momentary glimpse of the rabbit in headlights, you’ll be rewarded with a great rush of enthusiasm and gratitude for any given topic beyond these parameters. I can’t promise, however, that the skills and execution will quite match up to that enthusiasm. Bear with me though, I’ll hone my skills again eventually!
by Helen Bowman © 2012
Helen Bowman is a freelance writer, editor and proof reader who lives in Whitley Bay and works with small companies, individuals and groups to write, edit and proof read articles, press releases, website copy and all forms of the written word.
Contact her on 07725 196929 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.