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What does a child really hear?
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How well do you communicate with your child? It’s almost dinner time, and every toy your young son owns is cluttering up the house. From the kitchen, you yell, "Could you please pick up the living room floor?" Let’s see how this unfolds.

He hears you, but isn’t sure he can lift anything as heavy as the living room floor until he’s in high school. So he says, "I can’t do that right now." You bristle and say, "Young man... You pick up that living room floor, this instant!" Well, now he knows you mean business. So, he puts down his soldiers, and he grabs a loose part of the carpet and starts pulling. From the kitchen, you hear him grunting, and you think he’s still playing. You holler, "Hey! Do I need to come in there and straighten you out?" He’s ripped up a good-sized piece of the carpet, and he’s bent over in pain trying to loosen the baseboard moulding. So he says, "Yeah, I need straightening out right now!" You can’t believe what you’re hearing, and you bellow, "Mister! Are you being smart with me?" He’s just figured out how to use a fireplace poker to pry up the baseboard moulding, so he says, "Yes, Mister! I am being really smart." He remembered to use his manners, just like you did. Just then, a 4-foot section of the baseboard flies off the floor with a loud snap. This is when you snap too. You scream, "Buddy boy! I’m going to come in there and clean your clock!" Your son looks at the fireplace mantle, which he’s loosened from the wall, and he sees your heirloom clock sliding towards the floor. He says, "If you’re going to clean any clocks, you’d better get in here now." That does it! You race into the room in a rage, just as a large chunk of the mantle zooms by your head and Granny’s timepiece splinters into a million bits of gears and glass. Your son looks up at you with tears in his eyes and says, "I tried! I tried to pick up the living room, but it’s too heavy! I thought I was being smart, but now I can’t straighten up, and our clock can’t be cleaned at all!"

Do you ever wonder what a child hears? I do. I wonder all the time. Heaven help us when we talk to these innocent, trusting beings.


David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers and can be reached at