If someone doesn't understand what you are saying, our brain tells us there is really only one answer.
If someone doesn't understand what you are saying, our brain tells us there really is only one answer. Speak slow and loud. And we don't question this.
Why we think this will work alludes me.
"We need to go to cannon," my daughter declared one evening. I looked at her, confused.
"Caaannon!" she slowly yelled. I just blinked and turned my head to the side like my dog used to when I was a kid trying to explain why chewing on my shoes was a bad idea.
She repeated herself louder and slower. And I shook my head.
"Cannon, like a gun?" I said. Nope. It was a place, and she wanted to visit it.
"Canton?" I replied. She shook her head and annoyingly reminded me that we have been there a bunch of times.
A teacher in college once told me when he had a stroke everyone seemed to be talking another language. He didn't realize something was up until he passed a mirror and his face "looked like it was melting." As my daughter repeated herself, I felt my face and wondered if I should look in a mirror.
"You know, Cannon," she said, adding that a teacher read them a story about it. She insisted I knew what she was talking about, and peered at me with accusation as if my claim to know everything was in fact a lie.
"Canada?" I asked. She frowned and told me it was somewhere she had never been. "Have I been there?" I asked.
"I don't know, I have never lived your life," she replied profoundly.
We Googled it and found plenty of pictures of artillery and ads for cameras but no magical place worth visiting. I tried many variations of the word hoping to come across this magical land. Then she drew me a picture. There were two mountains on either side and water running through the middle. Now, for a 5-year-old, "mountain" can describe just about anything taller than she is. "And they are orange," she added.
It was decided that while both of us wanted to work on the problem long into the night, she needed to go to bed. A few hours later, I had an idea. "Canal?" I declared. I found an image of the Panama Canal, which made sense that she could have learned about it in school. When I brought it into her room, she was sound asleep.
The next morning, as my wife monitored our girls as they brushed their teeth, I showed my daughter the picture. She shook her head with pity knowing I spent all night thinking about it.
"There were orange mountains on both sides," she reminded me. With that my wife perked up.
"Oh!" she said. "It's that place ..." The words were on the tip of her tongue but couldn't come out. "You know," she told me, snapping her fingers.
I slowly backed out of the room and closed the door. "I don't know any of you," I said.
"The Grand Canyon!" my wife yelled slowly so I could understand.
I kicked the door open and Googled a picture. "Yes!" I exclaimed.
I showed my daughter. "Yes!" she exclaimed.
"Oh, sure," I said. "We should definitely go there some time."
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DaveManley.