Small talk / by Susie Lubell


I already know why my son will stop talking to me when he's a teenager. It's because for the first twelve years of his life he will have talked to me incessantly about things I am not interested in and I will tell him numerous times, when I have reached capacity, that I don't want to talk anymore and can he please zip it. That I'm not that interested in electricity. Or the settings of my iPhone. Or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which is ironic since I'm the one that introduced him to both the book and the movie as they are my favorites. Rather were my favorites until he talked about them so much that I wanted to drown him in a river of chocolate).

I need quiet. I need long periods of time during my day when no one is talking to me. Which is why I thank god every day for my mornings when I'm at home working or writing or whatever I'm doing. And I have these mornings so that by the afternoon I can pay attention to what he's saying and respond and engage and try my best to encourage his curiosity. I want him to ask questions. To think about how it all works and make his own sense of the world.  I just don't want to always answer him. Sometimes I can't answer him.  And why is it that I don't know how the scanner communicates to the printer. I mean I use these two things everyday. Why am I not interested? Because I just want it to work. I don't care how.

But he cares. He cares so much that he makes up stories about it. How the scanner speaks only in English to the computer and the computer has to translate the message into Hebrew because the printer only speaks Hebrew. And the scanner needs the computer to pass along his message to make the image print. I mean it's effing brilliant if you ask me, but hearing about it everyday makes me insane. He once told me about how there's someone else at school who likes to talk even more than he does and he told me about that person for forty-five minutes.

But I know a time will come when the roles will be reversed and I will desperately try to elicit conversation, even just information, from his eye-rolling, pimply head. And when he's silent I'll fill the silence with endless questions and stories and ramblings. But that will make him shrink away further. And there I'll be with no one to help me with my phone settings or my printer. And it will be my own damn fault.