Sometimes I think it is a wonder that our family understands each other at all. This wonderful family of mine—and they really are wonderful— are speaking different languages. I don’t mean languages such as Spanish or French–that would be so much easier. A semester at a community college and I would be on my way to fluency! No, I’m talking about words versus pictures. My oldest son and I think in words while my youngest son and husband think in pictures. We spend a great deal of time doing what I like to call ‘translating’ our ideas to each other. I translate my words into visual aids and my visual spatial family members are trying to turn their pictures into words. For my husband, that means he uses an enormous amount of words in an effort to describe the ‘picture’ to me. It takes a lot of words to explain things spatially and with the exact context that he intends. (Think about how many words it would take to describe a specific location of a set of playing cards in your house to someone who’s never been to your house) It can be frustrating for him and exhausting for the listener as he tries to decompose his ‘big picture’ to them. My son — the Great Little Pretender– speaks this visual/spatial language even more than my husband. This means that I am often answering a question or telling him something that is not even in the ballpark of what he intended. I call it the Tree vs. the Forest scenario. I am looking at a tree but my Great Little Pretender is talking about the whole forest. Just yesterday, he found this Curious George book and asked me, ‘what’s this?’ Take a good look at the cover.
I looked at it and explained, “it’s a book about things that are big and things that are small.” He just sat there studying the book very carefully with a concerned look. Finally, he came over to me and said, “no mama, it is not about things that are big or small. This is a book about circles.” And often that is how it is. For him bigger and smaller are not topics worthy of a whole book. He wants to know what are they DOING with circles? Is it about something you can make with circles? Maybe it is a book about how to draw a circle? What is the goal of the circles? He was very disappointed when he learned the book’s purpose was to compare pictures of big circles and little ones. To him, that seems to be a silly waste of a topic that is as good as circles. So the book goes by the wayside because it had nothing to offer him. And I realize that he saw an entire forest where I only noticed a tree.