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A few weeks ago, I took my grandson to visit someone, and the person asked him the typical questions that one asks a 4 year old: Who is your teacher? What is your favorite color? How old are you? etc.
Nothing unusual about the conversation; in fact it was a very charming conversation, one that both child and adult (and those watching) enjoyed.
Until my grandson decided to cut the interview short. His response to one particular question (a question which I don’t remember specifically), was “I’m not telling.”
That was it. Case closed. Dialogue ended. He didn’t want to “tell.” Was it a secret? Maybe, maybe not. But as far as he was concerned, the conversation was over. He wasn’t telling. Okay?
I have a hard time saying the above words; I tend to be very open and honest. Someone could ask me a question that I find inappropriate, but before I give myself a chance to process the question as “rude,” “NTB” (not their business), or just plain worthy of not answering, I blurt out something that satisfies them.
And later I regret it. Usually the question is not necessarily a personal one . In fact, it could be a very innocent question, but still one that produces that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, signalling to me to keep quiet, and to change the subject.
And often, I don’t heed that signal.
Recently, I had a more satisfying experience with this issue; an acquaintance asked me a question regarding one of my children. The truth was I didn’t even know the answer. All of my children are adults and make their own decisions about certain matters. I tried telling the person that I don’t know the answer. But the person would not relent. I tried changing the subject. Didn’t work.
And then it hit me to say the following:
“Hey, good question – why don’t you ask him?” (referring to my son).
That worked. My questioner backed off. (Whew). She wasn’t interested in calling my son up and getting her answer. She just wanted to discuss it with me. And I was not interested in going there.
I guess I’m getting better at following the lessons of my grandson – I am learning to convey in one way or another that although I may be an open person to some extent, there is a limit (I hope!)
Whether I use what I heard termed as “non-talk” (basically information that doesn’t really answer the question, but is nevertheless polite), or whether I use simply the phrase, “Hey, I’m not comfortable talking about that,” discretion is always a good thing.
Just because I am part of what is called the “sandwich generation” – does not mean I have to be privy to every detail of the people around me. Thankfully, I am (usually!) aware of that.
I guess there is nothing more to say on this post. Shhhhhhh.
Tags: adult children, boundaries, conversation, discretion, grandson, intrusive, lessons, limits, manners, privacy, questions, sandwich generation