WDAY.com |

North Dakota's #1 news website 10,650,498 page views — March 2014

Published July 01, 2013, 11:22 AM

Parenting Perspectives: Ignore squirrels and grumpy cats and just keep talking

It loses something without character actor Strother Martin’s distinct delivery, but my favorite movie quote is: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

By: Kathy Tofflemire, INFORUM

It loses something without character actor Strother Martin’s distinct delivery, but my favorite movie quote is: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

The line is from the 1967 prison film “Cool Hand Luke,” starring Paul Newman and George Kennedy.

“Communication” is my bread-and-butter, but that doesn’t mean I am any better at it than anyone else.

I find myself emailing a co-worker who sits 6 feet away. Heaven forbid we actually talk with each other.

Too often, in both work and family situations, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing (because there is no communication), and it causes unnecessary frustration.

Today, there are all kinds of electronic whosits and whatsits to make communication faster and easier, but that doesn’t make the interaction better or more meaningful. I think it does just the opposite.

Knowing my grandsons have their phones nearly permanently attached to their bodies makes it easier to let them out of our sight. But their mother gets frustrated if she gets no response to texts, especially from the 14-year-old as he and his buddies enjoy summer activities around town.

The rules are pretty simple: Let someone – Mom, Dad, Grandma – know when you go from Point A to Point B, and be home by your curfew.

For the 10-year-old, the rules are the same, except permission to leave home is required and the “leash” is shorter.

When the younger one and his best friend aren’t together, they are often FaceTiming. At least those conversations are face-to-face, of a fashion, and I’m all for that.

There is nothing I enjoy more than having family members interacting in the same room: Talking to each other. What a concept!

Not that communicating face to face always works perfectly either. The boys, being brothers, like to bicker. And my daughter and I tend to talk over each other and go confusingly off-topic when we are together. We blame it on the squirrels – “They say I have ADD; they just don’t understand ... Oh look, a squirrel!”

Even communicating with my longtime furry companion has changed. My 17-year-old cat has decided that just vocally requesting breakfast at 5 or 6 a.m. isn’t getting the quick response she is looking for. “Hey, Shadie, I have only been asleep for four hours …”

In recent months, she has started tapping me on the shoulder or the back of my head. It works because it gets annoying rather quickly. I soon find myself making my bleary-eyed way to the kitchen to open a can of food.

Communication is an art, or a paw upside the head.

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her

at (701) 241-5514, or ktofflemire@forumcom.com

Tags: