I’ve always been a fairly childish person. Not immature, but just never afraid to keep doing things that I liked as a kid, and still do to this day. Things like Lego, or looking up every time a plane flies overhead because I still think they’re cool (even though I see a dozen every day is Saskatoon).
However, I’m also a fairly mature and responsible person, who can do things he needs to when he needs to, take care of bills, make plans with other people, and so on. Both of these sides coexist together inside me peacefully.
Until I enter into an adult conversation.
Now these are not adult-themed conversations. I’m not going to get into those (and nor should you). I’m referring to the unbelievably normal thing that happens when adults get together and end up talking. If you’re an adult, then you’ve had an adult conversation. Generally, I find that it happens with at least three people, and they sort of form themselves into a circle (standing or sitting) so everyone can be a part of the conversation. Chances are, too, that you’ve never thought anything of it when it happens, and maybe not even noticed it was happening. This may even what you think of when you hear the term “hanging out.”
Then there’s me.
You’ve probably already noticed that I’m referring to these things as “adult conversations” instead of just “conversations.” Well, look at how kids talk and be with each other. They are running around and doing things while they talk. It all happens at once. Adults take out the doing part and just talk. And that’s where I start to get problems.
For the first, say, 15-20 minutes, I’m perfectly fine with being in an adult conversation. I like getting to know people, and learning about things they’ve done, sharing stories and hearing funny stories from others. This is my adult, mature half saying, “Hey, it would be nice to see how this person is doing.”
After the first bit of the conversation, though, I start to get…antsy. It’s like I’ve suddenly decided I’m 6 years old and I don’t want to pretend to be a grown up anymore and I can’t sit still. I itch to get up and do something, but my maturity reminds me that I would look rude and kind of like an idiot.
But the feeling persists.
So I end up forcing myself to sit and pay attention to what’s being said, but that ship has long sailed by this point. I look around. I get lost in my thoughts, then catch the last bit of a conversation that sounded interesting and want to know what happened before but can’t ask because then they’ll know that I really wasn’t listening at all and that I have the focussing capabilities of a humming bird. Is this what ADHD feels like?
Anyways, I sit silently like this, hoping I can jump into the conversation and force myself to be an adult, even though I know that the topics have departed my realm of knowledge and have no plans of returning to shore. That is, until I find a suitable distraction.
Here’s some real life examples:
1. I’m over at Janelle’s best friend’s house. We go out onto the back deck and hang out in the sunshine. Now, I know her, and we’ve talked briefly before, but I don’t really know her, and Janelle and her have a ton of history together, so I soon find myself sitting on the edge, watching them talk about old jobs and family friends and such. I’ve got nothing, so I start to look around, and let my mind wander…
"There’s a little bag on the shingles above them. Wonder how it got there? How long has it been there? I should take it down. Nope, can’t do that. That’d be weird. Man, there birds everywhere here. Ooh, they’re mentioning the birds! What is the bright orange one? An oriole maybe? I’ll suggest that (I did). Do they come around here, though? Or are they just in Baltimore?"
Suddenly, her little dog comes running out of the house to greet us. Usually, I’m not a fan of little dogs, but this one was pretty cute, and seemed really friendly to me, so I start playing with it. Soon I have it on my lap, and I’m just petting it and scratching it while it sits quietly. After 15 minutes, the dog gets up and leaves, and I realize I totally zoned out of the conversation. Whoops.
2. On that same weekend, Janelle and I went with her extended family to Dinosaur Provincial Park for a BBQ and to hang out with relatives. After the burgers, everyone starts to break off into groups and begin having conversations. Generally, in Janelle’s family, the men break off and talk about farming, while the women talk about…women things. I’m sorry, I can’t remember what they talked about. I usually think that I’m expected to be in the man group, so I listen to them talk about farming. Which I know very little about. Ranching I can get by with, but my farming knowledge ends after stooking. Which no one does anymore.
Anyways, during this picnic, I found myself torn between the two groups. First, I wanted to be with Janelle (because we’re engaged, if you didn’t already know), but I couldn’t contribute a thing to their conversation. I also wanted to hang with the guys, but I could contribute even less (especially since hockey season is over). So there I am, in the middle, listening to both side while not listening at all. Then Janelle’s (my?) nephew comes over and asks if I want to play football with him.
Heck yes, I do.
So I end up spending the rest of the time running around with a 4 year old and a 7 year old, letting them tackle me, wrestling with the younger one, and going to the park with them and hiding under a dinosaur slide, which led to pushing pebbles up through the perforated floor above us.
Now, some people may think that I was just being nice to the kids by playing with them. However, it’s more along the lines that I can’t sit still anyways and was looking for an excuse to go play with them because I freaking love it. I could escape the adult conversations and let my inner child go nuts. So really, I’m not just doing it for the kids. I’m doing it for me, too. Maybe that’s what draws me to elementary teaching.
Anyways, that’s my struggle of being in an adult conversation. One day I might be able to sit still and be all mature, but I highly doubt it. I’ll probably be the old guy playing with puppies and wrestling with his grandkids, while the adults sit around talking.