I don’t say this to sound like you are a beastie that sits behind doors and jump-scares your kids. I am talking about doing something (or things) that your kids will go: “MOM??!!” (You do have to drag out the “o” part with the sound of “ah” to get the full effect.), once you have done it.
My fault is gifted from my mother. My father did not know how to converse until he met her. (Pretty sure of this fact.) She, having been raised in the 1930’s without anything but radio and the art of conversation. I know, I know…this sounds impossible (especially to those under thirty), but it is true. She loved music, dancing, singing, and the art of conversation.
Lucky me – I received her gift! It was not always this way. I was a very shy and scared kid when I was younger. Now that I think back, I guess part of my coming out also had to do with my father. He forced me to go to work at about age fourteen selling sweet corn off the back of an old truck with a local farmer he knew. The farmer was about as old as his truck and found it hard to attend to people like he wanted, so he hired me to do it.
He watched me the first day, cowering at the back of the wagon, and on the way home he said,
“Do you want to know the secret of selling stuff?”
Mousey me answered yes, so he went on to share his secret. I will now share this once-in-a-lifetime, old sage advice with all of you:
Find something about that other person that catches your eye. Then compliment them on it.
That’s it. I thought that couldn’t be all there is to it and decided to try it out the very next day. A Cadillac pulled over, and a very well-dressed lady got out and came toward the back of the wagon. I happened to notice her ring was really catching the sunlight. Before she could utter a word, I looked her square in the eye and said,
“That ring is beautiful!” (with a genuine smile on my face)
She instantly smiled back, held out her hand so I could get a better look, and told me how it had been in her family for decades. We chattered back and forth about family heirlooms for a bit, and she ended up with two-dozen ears of corn. I was so squirrely I thought I would explode with joy!
I used his tactic all the rest of that afternoon and could not thank him enough on the way home. I did not feel shy anymore, but surprisingly confident. The rest of the fall I would spend weekends with the old farmer selling his goods and loved every minute of it. Not because of the sales part of it, but because of the conversation.
In all truth, I am a lousy seller. I cannot bargain with anyone about anything. If you tell me that’s the price, I will pay it with no dispute. I make my younger sister do all the wheeling-and-dealing because she loves it, and is good at it. Even to this day, I cannot sell anything unless I believe in it, like my crafts or our preserves.
However, if you would like to discuss something – ANYTHING – pick me. I love the art of conversation. I hated getting my first cell phone. To me, it meant the end of proper, decent civilization. Then the phone turned into a smartphone and death to the art of conversation.
- Text for your groceries and pay for them too. Then just go pick them up.
- Text for a pizza and have it delivered.
- Argue or talk nasty about someone and never look them in the eye while you do it.
- Brake up with someone
- Fall in love with someone
- Play games all by yourself, or with others, and you will never see your enemies eyes.
A part of me loves our modern convenience, but a bigger part of me is very saddened by it all. You see it everywhere:
- Coffee shops
- Standing in lines anywhere
- Driving (really ticks me off!)
- Walking (ok, I do find this funny on Facebook posts when they walk into stuff while texting)
All the while none of these people are looking out at the world at all. How can you text someone out to dinner with you, then spend the whole time looking at your phone? I caught my daughter and one of her old boyfriends sitting next to each other at our table. Both were texting and when I asked who they were talking to they said EACH OTHER – WHAT?!!?
Since that moment I have become obsessed with watching people and their “phones” and what they are missing during their obsession. So, for those of you that do that…this is what you missed:
- The best smile of your life.
- The most beautiful sunset shared with a person you love.
- Seeing the reaction, in real life, of a baby that gets introduced to a kitten or a puppy. Their laughter and the way they react to touching it for the first time is amazing. You can’t get that wonderful feeling via a picture or video. It must be experienced.
- Touching a Rhino (yep, my nephew works at a zoo and did that, I am so jealous) or holding a penguin (yep, he did that too).
- Hearing your child say, for the very first time – I love you.
- Sharing a warm hug and tears with your best friend when their loved one dies. Sometimes no words are needed at all, just a hug and a smile.
I guess I got a little longer than normal here. I just wanted to try to impress on everyone that the art of conversation must not die! Keep your phones, social websites, and games; but look up once-in-a-while and smile at someone – even if they are a stranger. You may be surprised to find that they usually smile back. Oh and – BONUS – it makes you feel great.
Please also check me out on: www.helbergfarmstories.com for more fun stories from our farm.