Like most people, I take the gift of my senses somewhat for granted. But let me qualify that by also saying that the one sense I have become much more appreciative of, is my hearing.
I have a recurring malady that blocks both ears for extended periods of time and I’m beginning to understand what it must be like to be a child, that is to say, to have no ears. It’s awful. The strain of continually having to look at someone who is talking to you, so that you can read their lips and pick up smatterings of their speech is exhausting. I think the little guys must start each day with the best of intentions, listening to everyone and everything and then slowly, throughout the course of the day they just let it all slide.
I get it now, I do the same thing. At the start of the day my head is spinning like a top on my shoulders, reading everyone’s lips to figure out what they’re saying. By lunchtime, I’m only looking up every half hour or so and miss everything said by everyone in between. By nightfall I’m effectively like an octogenarian with his hearing aid turned all the way down. The only way to get my attention at this point is to throw something at me. Preferably a snack.
The amount of additional energy I expend each day just ‘listening’ is offset only by the extra calories I am forced to consume during the day. So ultimately, in order to listen to everything said in a given day, I need to have a doughnut or a flake or perhaps even a small box of KFC. For children, I think it goes even further. Not only do you have to feed them in order for them to listen, but it has to be the right foods at the right time. For instance, at the start of the day, you can top up their ears with a biscuit, but at the end of the day, it’s probably better to use something innocuous like a rice cake to avoid any sugar rush complications at bedtime.
Or, you know, you could just shout at them like a lunatic. Like a parent.
Shouting works for my hearing problem, but I force the shouting more often than not for its entertainment factor than its functional one. People talking loudly so that you might hear them speak, are really quite comical. When they speak in a normal register, they also speak at a normal speed. But if you cup your ear and ask them to repeat themselves, they not only increase the volume, but they also slow down the speed and annunciate much, much more. They can’t help themselves, they think that louder and slower are joined at the hip, when in fact they are not. Speaking louder to someone with a hearing problem, makes it easier for them to hear what you are saying. Speaking slower to them though, makes you look feeble in the head.
We do the same for people whose mother tongue is not the same as ours. When we speak to them we tend to speak louder and slower. In this instance, speaking slower to someone whose mother tongue is not the same as yours is quite useful since it gives them time to translate what you’re saying in their heads. Speaking louder to them though, makes you look feeble in the head.
I do the same thing. It’s perfectly natural. Sky is blue, water is wet, if someone doesn’t hear or understand you, speak louder and slower. In truth though, there are very few instances where you’ll ever actually need to employ both.
With children we add another layer, we ask them to do something and when they ignore us, as they most often will do, we speak louder and slower, but also tend to ask the completely redundant question, “Did you hear what I just said?” Followed closely by, “Tell me what I just said.”
I would be hard pressed to explain to you why a grown up human would ask a new human being asinine questions like this, but we do. Sky is blue, water is wet…