Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Rattled (05/09/13)
By Lisa Hudson
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My nerves, my patience, my ability to think clearly…completely rattled. What a word. But it fits so well, at least today. I am certain I am feeling more vulnerable than usual to the irritating things that I can normally overlook. The chatterbox sitting next to me in the office, for example. I am purposely staying focused on my computer monitor so she can see that I am busy, yet she insists on talking, no…chirping at me. I want to just say “HUSH!” but I want to be nice…but it is getting harder and harder. Yes, rattled is the perfect word for how I feel at the moment!
I have learned that not all people are aware of the ‘signals’ we try to send to one another. We try to be polite but also try to convey that we aren’t available to chit-chat right now, and some people just don’t get it. I believe a correct term for this is to have, or to lack the ability to pick up on ‘social cues’. This describes ‘chatterbox’ well. What am I saying? It describes my kids! They are nearly grown now, but when I think about the many times I have stood with my mouth wide open from disbelief that they ‘didn’t get it’ just…well…rattles me!
Growing up, my dad had ‘a face’ that meant whatever was going on was to stop immediately! I remember a family dinner once, it could have even been on Thanksgiving. The four of us kids were laughing and cutting up, and I guess we went a little overboard, because one by one, the chatter at the table grew more quiet. I’m pretty sure I was the last to catch on because I can remember laughing out loud, then realizing I was the only one who was laughing! I scanned the family starting from mom on my right, and then slowly I looked across the table at my brothers. Instinctively, I turned to my immediate left at my sister who didn’t dare look back at me. Nope, they were all looking at the man at the head of the table. His eyes were burning into mine, with his lips pierced and nostrils flared. That was the look! We all knew it was time to be quiet. Dad had really good ‘social cues’!
My kids, on the other hand…not so much. I remember the first time I tried to use daddy’s look on them. I might as well have been invisible! I learned very quickly that I had to put words to my look, or nothing would happen. Once I had been the organizer of an award ceremony at church, so of course I had the honor of standing on stage to announce the recipients. I can’t imagine what was so important that my kids needed to ask me their questions right then, but while I’m trying to read names, all three of my children got up from their seats, walked up to the foot of the stage and all said, “Momma”! I’m sure I tried to play it cool, and probably said something motherly like, “Kids, mommy is busy right now…go back to your seats.” They stayed put. I imagine I turned all shades of red when again, I heard, “Momma!” The really scary part of this story is that my husband, their daddy, was sitting in the audience! Obviously he was having trouble picking up my ‘social cues’ to him when I had to speak to him in the microphone to come up and get his kids!
I don’t know…maybe it’s me. I just know that when I’m speaking to someone and they start yawning or checking their phone for messages, my conversation probably needs to come to an end. I always knew when I embarrassed my mother when I said something I shouldn’t have. She had a look too, but she also had a way of thwacking our cheeks. It had a way of sending chutes of pain through your cheeks up to your eyes which would start to water upon impact. I got the message loud and clear. Mom learned later that she may have caused permanent nerve damage if she had hit the right nerve! Well, I may have ended up with a droopy face but I sure would know when to shut up!
That last thought kind of cracked me up. I’m still hearing the constant chirping from ‘chatterbox’, but I’m not as rattled as I was before.
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