I recently have developed a problem where I have trouble having conversations with other grownups except with people who:
a) know me well or
b) are also parents of small children
About a month ago I was at a gathering at a friends’ house and had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with my friends’ closest friends and family. I ended up in the room with the younger people because I have young children and this was the room with the toys. Throughout the afternoon, I chatted with some friends, acquaintances, and a few people I never met before. Since it was early June, one major topic of conversation was “What are you doing this summer?”
I didn’t really have a good answer when I was asked this question. For starters, my husband and I did not sit down and have a conversation yet about when he would request time off of work. Secondly, our children are 4 months old and 2.5 years old and traditionally Mr. Man (the toddler) hasn’t always been the best sleeper when we have gone away in the past. So I probably mumbled something about how we had not figured it out yet.
The surprising thing is that after I mumbled my answer, the people I was conversing with usually had some big trip planned that they told me about in great detail. I spoke with a couple traveling to London with their young daughter, a man planning to see many regions of Italy with his wife, and an acquaintance who just returned from a trip to Northern California to see the giant sequoias.
Those all sounded like fun vacations. Part of me enjoyed hearing about what they had planned. It is fun to live vicariously through others travels. From what I understand from 80’s television, people used to invite each other over to show slide shows of their vacation pictures. It sounded like the kind of party characters on television never wanted to attended. Unlike television characters though, if I were invited to a party like this, I would have gone and enjoyed myself. I like looking at people’s vacation pictures and hearing about their trips. I also like hearing about trips people are about to take .
But even so . . .
Part of me also felt silly because the conversations were very one sided. I mostly just listened to their travel plans and tried to ask questions about what they were doing and what they were up to so they would not be on to me.
I was glad that I could participate in the conversation about the giant trees of Northern California. My husband and I visited Muir Woods when we traveled to San Francisco on our honeymoon and saw the redwood trees.
Later in the afternoon, the young man traveling to Italy mentioned that that lately he has been hearing about a lot of people talking about going to Prague on vacation. He then said that he had been to Prague with his family, once, more than 10 years ago, but now it seems like Prague is a popular travel spot. The way he said it, it sounded like he thought traveling to Prague for vacation in this day and age sounded unoriginal or even dare I say it: Basic.
This made we think, “If traveling to Prague is Basic. . . what hope is there for the rest of us who lead ordinary lives?.”
At another gathering earlier this summer, I saw my husband’s cousin who, knowing that I liked listening to podcasts, asked me “Katie, have you listened to any good podcasts lately?” Again I fumbled a little bit and said something like, “I haven’t had too much time to myself lately.” And it is true, that it often almost 9:00 before Mr. Man is tucked in, dinner is put away, and the toys are straightened up which does not leave a lot of time for indulging in hobbies.
The real crux of the problem though is that people never seem to ask me questions about things I have been putting a lot of thought into lately like:
- Which PBS Kids Show is the funniest for adults?
- On the show Pinkalicious, why did the titular character’s parents name her Pinkalicious Pinkerton if she also lives in a town called Pinkville? Didn’t they think that was a little too cutesy? Who does that?
- Isn’t the PBS Kids show __(Fill in the blank )___ interesting for adults to watch too? (most of them are pretty good). And they have some great talent voicing the characters. For example, Martin Short voices The Cat In the Hat and Taran Killam voices Nature Cat.
- What is a good strategy for getting a toddler to leave the playground while he is still having fun but before he gets too tired and hungry without the toddler in question throwing a fit?
Luckily, I have my husband to talk with about all these burning questions.
I think, ultimately, people just want something to talk about when they are at a party. Most people are just fumbling around trying to start a conversation. The more interesting your vacation plans are, the better conversation fodder you have, I guess, and it is safer to talk about vacation plans than politics.
It is just that the things I think about lately don’t make very interesting conversation topics for people who don’t have small children. Perhaps, what I need to do is come to a party with planned, universal conversation topics ready at hand. I just need to figure out what those might be.
Seriously though, if anyone wants to talk about the finer points of PBS kids television I am all ears!