My oldest daughter talks a lot. I don’t mean she’s a bit chatty or above average in the amount she speaks, I mean she fills every possible silence with words. She was an early talker with a large vocabulary with the ability to form sentences from quite a young age. She hasn’t stopped since.
As understanding as we are as parents, the incessant chatter starts to grate on our nerves eventually.
I am an introvert. I need time to process things and a constant barrage of conversation isn’t something I enjoy. I value silence. I do like to talk to people, but I do not do well with talking for talking’s sake. As you might imagine, the torrent of conversation that comes out of my daughter’s mouth is something, that at times, I have trouble dealing with.
One evening this past spring we were having dinner as a family. My oldest was talking as if the fate of humanity depended on the sheer volume of words that she could say. I don’t know what made me do this, but something made me decide to have a bit of fun.
“Honey, I’m worried. I think you should slow down.” I said to my daughter. She looked at me a confused expression crossed her face. “You’re going to run out of words.”
I then proceeded to explain, completely deadpan, that your voice-box is a physical structure and after so many words it will break down and you won’t be able to talk anymore. She asked me how many words does someone get and I explained that no one knows an exact amount, only that she was using hers up at a very alarming rate. I fielded additional questions with true sounding falsehoods and I had her convinced.
My wife went along with this farce completely because she is awesome and we laughed about it later that night when the girls were in bed. My daughter chooses her words carefully for that night and the morning after. She must have started her doubts because she asked her teacher to confirm what I said about everyone having a limited number of words, and he debunked me. I imagine he had quite the laugh when he was asked the question though.
This little joke of mine had an unintended consequence. My younger daughter heard what I said and took it to heart. She is quieter than her older sister so it took us a little while to notice she was not talking as much. It wasn’t until she started writing little notes to my wife and me instead of talking that we realized something was amiss. We asked her why she was writing the notes and she answered with big tears in her eyes that she didn’t want to run out of words. We told her that I played a prank on her older sister and I saw instant relief cross her face.