Tag, You’re It! A Lesson in Communicating!
A Bone-Jarring Experience and the Importance of REALLY Communicating!
Yesterday we took our six-year-old granddaughter out to a nearby parking lot to let her show us how she has mastered her new Razor Scooter. Her description of the scooter, “It goes eight miles an hour, Granny!” My description – a high tech, electric motor version of the old Red Radio Flyer scooter. She has mastered it quite well and made several trips up and down the plains and hills of the parking lot. In the course of our conversation prior to the riding excursion, she explained that she had learned to “just jump off of it.” This was later clarified as a last resort maneuver that she and her mother had agreed upon in the event she felt “it was out of control and destined for a crash.” Considering eight miles an hour is the top speed, “jumping off of it” does seem the safer option to a full on crash.
At a critical point in our outing yesterday, she exclaimed, “Let’s play Tag You’re It, Granny!” My reply, “Sure,” as I take off at a leisurely trot. Shortly, I hear the scooter approaching, and I make a slight veer to the right so as to allow her plenty of room to go between curb and me. In my mind “Tag, You’re It” on a scooter means she will come up even with me and exclaim, “You’re It, Granny!” Not so in the language and understanding of a six year old!
It seemed to occur nanoseconds after my slight veer. I was going down and landed sprawled, face down on the parking lot pavement. Ouch! Really big! I lay there motionless. My wrap around sunglasses were off and on the ground. Luckily, my real glasses remained on my head and in tact! Was anything broken? Could I move? The most obvious sources of pain in the immediate aftermath were the palms of my hands and the sense that every bone in my body had received a resounding “Thud!” No, I was not wearing the protective helmet, knee and elbow pads that she was wearing. Both she and her grandmother, who was also with us on the outing, came to my rescue. She had taken a bit of a tumble off the scooter, but was totally focused on me sprawled on the pavement and obviously hurt. That’s not a sight six-year-olds are accustomed to seeing.
I simply lay there for a few moments assessing my condition and not wanting to move. I gradually moved and turned over to my back and lay there a bit more getting my bearings before getting up. I proclaimed my, “I’m okay,” (actually, I wasn’t – pain and waves of nausea) loaded the scooter back in the car, and headed home to clean up and tend my wounds – gouges (from the pavement gravel) in both palms, bloody, scraped elbows (even though I had on a long sleeve shirt that was not torn!), and later a bulge and pain in my right thigh muscle that has responded fairly well to ice – lots of it!
After wound treatment and while resting on the sofa, I had an interesting and enlightening conversation with the scooter rider. Who, by the way, was quite compassionate and solicitous in attending to my care. At one point, she pulled a random book off the shelf and said, “Here, Granny, you can read this.” After assuring her that I was okay, I asked her what had happened. Her response was that she was trying to get close enough to touch me and say, “Tag, you’re It!” We, then, had the discussion about how to play “Tag, you’re It,” when one is on a scooter and the other is not. We decided the best method would be for the scooter rider to come along side the runner, make eye contact (at which point we “eyeballed” each other with big bulging eyes), and say, “Tag, you’re It!” It never occurred to me to have that conversation before we played!
And that brings me to the point of communication. How often do we think we are communicating, when actually we are not? Communication definitely involves attending and listening, but it also requires that those communicating share common meanings and concepts for the words and ideas used and similar understandings for what is reasonable and logical in the given situation. My granddaughter and I were not communicating effectively prior to the “Tag, you’re It,” game. Or, to be more accurate, I, as the adult, was not communicating to a six-year-old what was reasonable and logical in our “Tag, you’re It” game between scooter rider and runner. She was operating, as to be expected, fully out of her experience and understanding as a six-year-old. Me, the adult, well! Sometimes it takes a bone-jarring experience to make us think and communicate effectively!