Saying Things That Make No Sense

In this era of masks and diminished hearing, it’s easy to reply in nonsensical ways to a comment or question directed at you. In my recent excursion into the world of seventh-grade language arts it happened to me quite often. A student would say something to me that got funneled through the translation colander on the way to my ears.

It was like this!

Student: Mr. Wolfe, can we get a little more time to work on the short story?

ME: That’s not my decision. If you want salad for lunch, go for it!

Student: Huh???

Yes, it’s probably a sign that my hearing has deteriorated a bit. Add to that a growing number of students masking up as they attend class. It always seems to be the ones who are as quiet as church mice who turn their volume down another level with their mask. It’s confusing to a senior citizen who sometimes wants to hear what he wants to hear.

That’s another angle on this communication confusion. We have a tendency to want to hear what we prefer to hear. There were a few times in my youthful years where I wanted to hear that a certain young lady was interested in me. I’d take any positive comment from her and sift it through the translation colander for what it meant. She said hello to me in the school hallway = “She’s interested!” She sat two seats over from me in chemistry class = “She wants to be close to me!” Our elbows touched in the crowded cafeteria = “Please call me!”

We have the need to hear what we’ve already decided is the right answer. It’s the ravenous hunger of our times, to not hear words correctly and rearrange the pieces accordingly.

My students would giggle and laugh as they listened to my distorted responses. I could translate “better” into “peanut butter” and “graded assignment” into “great climbing”.

Student: Mr. Wolfe, will that be our next graded assignment?

ME: I don’t know. I’ve done a climbing wall once, but I wouldn’t call it a great climb!”

Student: Huh???

And so it goes! Confused communication. Wrong ways to reword. Not hearing the truth and not wanting to hear the truth.

Now it makes me wonder what that young lady, a few decades ago, really DID say about me? Did she even know who I was? Was she saying hello to me or to a taller guy who happened to be walking behind me? All disturbing questions to ponder…so I’ll just keep thinking she was interested!

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