Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Deaf Ears

“What are words for when no one listens it's no use talkin at all”

Song, “Words”, Missing Persons

I received the sub call at 6:34AM yesterday. This question was posed; “Are you still able to work today?” This made me wonder if I can turn down a job that late without penalty. Not that I would turn down a job without a good reason (Probably). The job was for seventh and eighth-grade Math at a middle school I knew well. I would later find out that the Social Studies teacher was also out, leaving me wondering why I had to be subjected to teaching “Powers of Ten” instead of History. The Social Studies substitute turned out to be a recent college graduate who thought she might want to teach music, irritating me. And she only had to show a movie – not assist with a six-page packet.

Getting over my stomach illness, I was tired yesterday morning, so I can’t tell if that or something else started me grumpy. It’s a pet peeve of mine (and I’m sure I’m not alone) when I say something, but it falls on deaf ears. The previous evening, I told my husband that the bar down the road was opening on Wednesday. What do you think he said yesterday morning? That it’s opening Tuesday. When I was getting ready, I let my husband know that I’d leave him the car at Taekwondo tonight, when a friend was supposed to take me to some store opening. Shortly before I left, he asked if I would be leaving him the car. Suppressing a growl, I told him that I said that already. He got annoyed, which I thought was unjustified, since I should've been annoyed that I needed to repeat myself. Was I not supposed to point that out? It’s not like I talk so much that he has to tune me out (I think). And although I appreciate that he’s picking up the kids so I can be dragged to a store where I can’t afford anything, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to be heard.

The icing on the repetition cake happened when I let my children know that I’d drive them to work this morning, since it’s on the way to the school I’d be working at. As we neared the time to leave, my son asked, “Are we taking the bus?” I reiterated that he wasn’t and also that I’d already said this. He got defensive. “I just woke up. I was tired.” I mumbled that I bet he didn’t miss a word of “The Simpsons”. He had an answer for that too – he was up by then, several seconds later. My mistake.

My son must’ve been in a bad mood too because he then gave me a hard time when we were leaving the house, yelling at me for requesting that he wear a something warmer than a thin cotton hooded jacket. I guess he forgot his own words last week, when he screamed at me for the same request, and then later apologized, promising not to give me a hard time about dressing warmer again. Just so you know, I’m only asking him to put a camouflage fleece over the hooded jacket. The boy owns camouflage shirts, pants, socks, and even underwear, so it’s not like I’m forcing him to wear something he doesn’t like. My husband said I should just let him be cold, but I’m trying to look like a good parent. What will people think of me if he’s underdressed? Oh, and I don’t want him to get sick.

Sometimes I swallow the urge to point out that I’ve given instructions, mentioned something, or sent an e-mail whose contents have been forgotten. But other times I get too frustrated. What does it mean when my words fall on deaf ears, especially when it’s not nagging? Does it say something about me, or about how the listener (or lack thereof) perceives me? What was going on in that person’s head as I spoke?

I grew up in a house where words were perverted, hurled back, ridiculed, slurred, buried, and bellowed. I spent much of my time repeating conversations in my head, to know for sure how they were originally said when someone else distorted them later. I endured a childhood hearing my voice drowned out by chaos. Perhaps that is why when words are forgotten, I feel affronted.

I’m sure I’ve also committed the offense of forgetfulness. I’m not without a couple of tiny flaws - I can be critical and cranky, and I have a hard time apologizing first. I’ve been told that my knack for recalling a conversation in vivid detail is annoying (Rather than a gift). Though I have repeated that it’s a leftover coping mechanism, and not an ulterior motive, that defense has often fallen on deaf ears.

I decided to apologize to my husband for snapping because after a time, I was sure that I had overreacted. Maybe it’s not always so important that everything I say is immortalized. Hopefully I’ll have better luck immortalizing my written words instead.


  1. I think sometimes we hear it but it does not register. Old age, another thought is happening at the same time, day dreaming,sleepiness, there must be countless reasons.

  2. I'll have to say that to myself the next time it happens, Sheila.
    In Stu's defense, I already said that I wasn't in the best mood. He later said that he was just trying to clarify the car situation. And I did apologize.

  3. Huh, this post didn't/hasn't cropped up in my reader.

    I hear ya! That used to bug me like crazy too... Then I started helping people trouble shoot computer, and had a magical enlightenment. Most people aren't actually trying to be disrespectful, they're just confronted with the imperfection of language as a means of communication, with any number of unrelated things boiling in their minds, and doubts/uncertainties that plague them in their everyday endeavors.

    Now, I have a harder time dealing people who feel they have to repeat the content of whatever they say six times in the course of a conversation. : j

  4. @ Alesa, I like your new picture.

    Repeating is annoying.

    We all have our own stuff going on. I have to remember that and be a little less critical when they don't hang on to my every word.

  5. Thanks the new picture didn't last long. It was a bit too luxurious for my liking. ; j

    Nodnod... Life, a never ending saga about learning to live with others. ; j