I went for an afternoon swim. Two kids were talking back and forth in the locker room. They were about ten or twelve years old from what I could gather. They were talking about their height in comparison with the rest of their respective class.
I hadn’t heard two monologues forming such a wide rift in a long time. Usually I see people who can’t seem to listen to each other and talk at the same time. This was different.
You see, they never asked each other questions. It went like this :
Bobby : I’m one year older than everyone and that’s why I’m taller.
Timmy : I’m smaller than everyone in my class.
Bobby : I think it’s because I’m doing my fifth grade again.
Timmy : I think I was the tallest of my class last year.
And so it went on like this until I left for the pool. Counting the number of Me’s and I’s, there must have been over a hundred spoken in about 5 minutes!
You could have listened to both kids separately and both of them would have a linear story with no ambiguity. It certainly makes you think, about how important our personal narrative is from a very young age. Some kids might be naturally more curious thanks to their environment, but usually what I see is who can impress the others the most.
At least they seemed to give themselves the space to talk without cutting in. It remains to be said, both of the kids learned very little about each other. If you want to expand your understanding of the world, by all means, ask questions. And this goes for me too. The kids tonight showed me how undermining long monologues can be. They are a real detriment to fostering relationships with people we love.