Part 2 to Daughters don't Diminish.
There was laughter the day after.
A few hours later on March 29th, Olivia returned from school intent on demonstrating her continued displeasure. I received major cold-shoulder. Thankfully it only lasted an hour…. but what a long hour! I let the matter rest and exhaled as we headed into the long weekend.
The next day over breakfast I broached the subject carefully by saying how glad I was that we had the chance to discuss how she can make stronger language choices. Her reply perplexed me. She said “It was so frustrating Mom. I know I’m a great student.” To drive home her point she gave me a high 5 and proclaimed, “I’m fantastic!”
Uncomprehending what was at play, I asked her to explain to me again why she chose to insert quite before the things she did well. She replied “I wanted to write it fancy, like on Downton Abbey.”
Photo Cedit: Richard Munchton
I smiled and said “This is precisely why communication is so hard. When you said nicer, in your mind you had said fancy. When I heard you say nicer, I thought OMG…I hear diminishing language." I had jumped to the wrong conclusion and launched into problem solving immediately.
Imagine how our conversation would have been different if I had asked “What do mean by nicer?” Her real motive would have likely surfaced. Instead I tried to solve the wrong problem leaving the actual problem unaddressed, all while leaving her frustrated and feeling misunderstood. Yikes. I explained this to her and promised that I will try to ask more questions to make sure I really understand what she means.
Then I addressed the problem that hadn’t been addressed. I explained that inflating her language to sound fancy wasn’t a good idea for a few reasons. Firstly, she shouldn’t pretend to be someone she’s not because it’s fake and she’s great just as she is. Secondly, words have different connotations in different parts of the world and in different time periods. Saying something was "quite well done" in Britain 100 years ago doesn’t mean the same thing as saying something is "quite well done" in Toronto in 2018. In Toronto in 2018, that quite means ‘kind of.’ ” She exclaimed "No way, really!?!" I nodded, really.