Some of my closest friends in Boston speak english as a second language…sorta. When they are harried, like parents of young children often are, their vocabulary suffers. I’ve heard it called “mom brain”- that mushy, non resilient thing that happens to your short term memory upon having children. My brother researched it and told me that my brain was actually smaller in size after having children, and then proceeded to address me as “Small Brain” for a few months.
My friends are wonderful. We enjoy our time together and our children enjoy each other as well. This can be difficult to find. I sometimes explain it as akin to the difficulties couples have finding other couples to hang out with…the men have to like each other, the women have to like each other, and the men and the women have to like each other…but not TOO much! Only add to this complex equation the additional little persons and their phases and stages. It can be challenging.
So our family has a wonderful family that we are platonically dating, and we speak different languages. I have found we use the word “Okay?” a lot. “Okay” is a question. “Okay” is answer. “Not Okay” is indicative that something needs to be changed. When distracted parents are trying to communicate with each other, this seems to be the bare bolts necessaries of communication. Every so often, in golden moments, we get to sit and chat and expound upon our different theories on life and love and family and the world. The rest of the time, “Okay” and a congenial smile seems to do all the work of friendship while we chase our children, pick up after them, feed them, and do all the things that occupy the little moments of our day.
For a person who loves words, this is an interesting exercise. Instead of my usual verbose, loquacious and grandiloquent verbiage, (definition: I like the sound of my own voice)- I am forced to pare down my language to be understood.There is no purpose to language if not communicating. Enjoying your own language is something….else….but not communication. More on this to come later. I slow down. I enunciate. I enjoy the physical presence of others. I elaborate my physical gestures. I remember that friendship has to do with good will and it’s okay to provide room to grow in a relationship. I’m reminded again of Thoreau and his desire to see what were the bare essentials necessary for life.
I see love communicated in our friendship by how we treat each other and each others children. I jabber away at their baby in english, though he might not understand me. They open their home to my explorative preschooler who seems magnetically drawn to their apartment. Friendship is expressed in a universal language of actions. Words can be hollow, and this is an idiomatic expression I will teach my friends.