Public Speaking

In public places, one may sometimes encounter a variety of mother who audibly narrates her young child’s activities, in a sing-song, faux-pre-school teacher manner. At the grocery store, “Yes, Aidan, that’s broccoli! You love broccoli.” Waiting at the doctor’s office, “Baby?! You see the baby? Yes, that baby has a pacifier like you, but yours is only for nigh, nigh.” Crossing the street, she may look both ways in an exaggerated manner. In a public restroom, she may burst into a “hand-washing song.” On the playground, she may be seen hovering beside her child, tissue at the ready. Wherever she is, her continuous voluble narration is unstoppable. The outside observer might wonder if this steady stream of commentary allows this mother to make it through a mind-numbingly dull day. Or, perhaps, she believes that this semi-instructive patter will benefit her child more if delivered in loud saccharine tones. Or, she may believe her monologue will demonstrate her skill as a mother. Maybe she has not yet realized that the world is indifferent to what she says to her child in the grocery store and that no one doubts that she is, indeed, the person best qualified to raise her child. Even without the sing-song drivel.

10 comments:

IL-VA-MA-TORONTO said...

Oh, moms like that drive me over the edge (and with 3 boys ages 6,7 and 9, I spend most days perched precariously on the edge)....

solsticemom said...

What I can't stand is when people say things like "fishy, doggie" (etc) to children. It makes me shudder.

Megan said...

And I thought I was bad for not constantly narrating my child's day to her. Thanks for the relief and pointing how truly obnoxious this is.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the bodily function narratives. "Do you have a poopy diaper?" NO ONE wants to hear that. Ever.

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Oh yes, how could I possibly forget public potty talk?

Paige said...

On the contrary, I think these moms are very aware that "the world is indifferent to what she says to her child in the grocery store". She's doing it for her kid's benefit, not yours.

Anonymous said...

Mommy prattle is like cell phone chatter, some people find it deeply obnoxious and offensive and others just tune it out or shrug it off.

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Yes, of course such a mother loves her child and wants to do what is best for him. We would just like to counsel her to be mindful of those around her in public places and try to keep the volume low, and be sure the one-way conversation is not an imposition on those around her.

I would add that there is such a thing as trying too hard, talking too much (and too loudly), and robbing a child of the chance to experience the world on her own terms and at her own pace. There is, of course, nothing wrong with explaining things to a child, but young children may also benefit from having some space to wonder and observe.

Anonymous said...

This type of commentary helps my daughter learn language, and was recommended by her speech therapist! Of course, I try to keep it low and don't do it constantly.

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Well, we won't argue with a speech therapist! But thanks for keeping the volume down and really doing it for your daughter -- not for show.

It is funny - since I wrote the post now I am self conscious of when I do it too! So everyone does it, but I think most people only notice it in a few extreme cases. Trying to figure out what makes those stand out from the rest.

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