‘ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!!!!’
A friend of mine and his five year old son came over for a visit when I had the above reaction to something this fellow Dad said. For consistency, I’ll call the five year old Mr. H.
Mr. C and Mr. H were playing with a set of Thomas the Tank Engine trains, which go along with a set of wooden railway pieces which fit together to form any number of railway configurations. Straight pieces, curved pieces, Y shapes, X shapes. Kids can come up with their own rail yards by fitting together the wooden tracks. Mr. H was trying to fit together some of the tracks when his Dad said; ‘What you need there is a track with a female connector’
That was when I had the above reaction.
I didn’t say anything though, but he could tell by my reaction that I thought something was wrong. It may have been the shocked look, the audible gasp, the hand slap to the forehead, or maybe the vigorous shaking of the head.
‘What ?’ he said, ‘Should I call it something else ?’
Just then his son asked ‘What do you mean by female connector, Dada ?’
Part of my previous job in Advertising was trying to find out what my clients might want to do, and part of that is learning how to anticipate how each conversation can develop, and try to steer conversations to where I want it to go. I used to think that everyone did that. I also used to think that I only did it at work, but I’m sure that I do it outside of work too.
So it might be just an unconscious strategy on my part to avoid situations like this, or maybe I’m reverting to work mode and trying to anticipate conversations, but I would never say that any toy has a ‘female connector’.
“That side is the “innie”, the other side is the “outie.” I said to Mr. H’s Dad as he tried to somehow wiggle his way out of a conversation with his five year old as to why he would call it a “female connector”.
Luckily, Mr. C was in the bathroom at the time, so I could make a quick escape from the play area to check on him, and avoid the potentially embarrassing conversation. So, I have no idea what happened next, and I don’t want to know. ‘La,la,la,’ I say loudly with my fingers in my ears as I go off to the bathroom to “Check on how he’s doing”.
Yes, I’m avoiding these kinds of conversations for now. But Mr. C is just 4 years old, I’ll wait a few more years, maybe when he’s 8, or 10, or 14…. Yes, yes, I know, not a good plan, I’ll have to do something at some point.
Or maybe I can have Ms. J answer questions like that, and avoid it altogether.