You Talk Too Much? Linda Knight Seccaspina
I have been told I talk a lot, or, I believe the word is–‘chatty’. I don’t mind being labelled that as my Grandmother always told me if you didn’t ask questions, you’d never know anything. By the looks of my baby book, my family began their entries in “Babies First Words” after I was born in 1951. I know they wanted me to say “Mama” first but I dropped my old Dad’s name instead at 8 months.
I’m honest, I failed math three times in Grade 8 and got a final mark of 29 out of 200, so I am not a brainiac. I remember my poor Father’s face when he saw that report card and asked if I couldn’t have convinced them to have given me more marks for neatness. I should have asked him if saying “Bye Bye Daddy” at 17 months made up for anything.
My family was not going to accept the sound of crickets between us so allegedly the vocabulary was flying until I was 18 months. They stopped documenting after that, so obviously we all were having many fireside chats at the age of 2. Apparently word at the A & P was that there was a child in town that didn’t talk until he was 4. That was about the time Diefenbaker was running for Prime Minister. Somehow this child’s first word was “Diefenbaker’ and it was gossip fodder for months on Albert Street in Cowansville.
My Grandfather Crittenden used to visit on weekends and would always rub his hands before he ate and say “lordy, lordy, lordy”. When I was a wee gal I would sit next to him and mimic everything he did. One fine morning at breakfast, I broke the seal on my voicebox once again with new words and said “lordy, lordy, lordy” in sync with him. Funny I never saw that documented in my baby book.
Another family story was that my Father was chopping wood for my Grandmother Knight when the axe head came off the handle, and the blunt end struck him on the foot. This caused him to yell “sh*t,” which caused me to repeat it for the rest of the day. Sixty years later and that word is still my instinctive response to being startled.
When I was a child my father would bring me to many Eastern Townships rural auctions. We would sit for hours on hard wooden benches in some old barn while he bought a lot of old furniture he didn’t need. During that period of time I learned a lot of different vocabulary. My Dad met a pair of elderly twins at those auctions that had lived in the hills of the Eastern Townships for most of their lives. One of them had been nicknamed Hillside Johnny. Johnny was a recluse and seemed to talk to just a chosen few, and very few seemed to be on that list. When the folks at the auctions spoke about him and his home, it was said that his was not “a home of culture”. The more they talked about him, the more curious I became.
Johnny used to walk up and down the length of the auction barn sporting a strange shirt, soiled pants, well worn work gloves and “highwater” pinkish underwear that seemed to explode above his pants. Every 15 minutes his hat seemed to change like magic and the holes in his socks appeared larger.
As the long-haired man spoke here and there to some I overheard that his brother lived with him, but they had not spoken in 5 years. He no longer used his kitchen after they converted it into an extra bedroom and cooked on a hot plate in a disgusting over-crowded garage. There was little conversation in a home in a highly sought neighbourhood in Bromont with a view that would soon cost mega dollars in years to come.
I listened carefully as Johnny told my Dad things in so many words. He was comfortable that he had not driven a car in years, but instead rode his bike the 3.5 to 5.5 miles up and down the hills that would give a younger man a heck of a workout.
Each time my Dad saw him he handed Johnny something in a coloured shopping bag that seemed to match his underwear. What was in that bag? I never found out, and after the auction Johnny used to slowly wander silently down the road speaking to no one.
I was never neurotic about speech with my own children like my family was. I believe my oldest son’s first word was “Holstein” at 10 months, and he hasn’t stopped talking since. Skyler was a collicky baby so rides in the country were a daily event to calm him. I was always pointing out the different cows in the fields for his vocabulary benefit. As long as you talk to your children and keep them interested you can’t go wrong making animal sounds in the car which was interesting to him and the folks passing by in their cars.
Today’s baby’s first words have been said to be “tablet” or Amazon’s “Alexa” which shows how many children have switched to tech modes of entertainment similar to Ipads and the like. It just amazes me how my young Granddaughters can manoeuvre these things while I can just play slots on my iPad.
I have come to the conclusion that at 71 my conversational skills encouraged by my family will never stop. They say the less you talk the more people listen–maybe that’s why no one ever listens to me these days. I just consider myself lucky that I can walk and talk at the same time now. People who don’t know me think I am basically a quiet person. People that do know me wish I was. Or so they say!
Sending big hugs- see you next week!
Conversations with Agatha Yuill –The Buchanan Scrapbook
Conversations with Brian McArton– Henry Wilson of Carleton Place and the McArtons of Ramsay