Did He Really Just Ask That Question?

Did He Really Just Ask That Question? April 14, 2021

This is a true story. Names are withheld to protect the innocent. If you know my family, you know the characters.

Parents, never underestimate the wisdom of asking clarifying questions.


Dad: Many of my friends know that I have hearing loss, which requires me to wear hearing aids. As those of you who have hearing loss know, you often mis-hear things that people say. Sometimes are quite funny, some are muffled sounds that you cannot make out, and some are quite shocking. So shocking that you know that individual could not have possibly said that…

Then there was last night.

As my wife and I sat eating dinner with our fifteen-year-old daughter and eleven-year-old son, we had our regular banter across the table while enjoying one of our favorite dinner options. While looking down and loading his fork for the next bite, my son, completely out of context of the current conversation, asked his sister, “How long are your periods?”

Mom: I froze. My girl froze. Our eyes met. I glanced over at Dad, who was industriously loading his fork, eyes down. Only the quirk of his mouth told me he had heard the same thing.

Dad: Our daughter lowered her fork, not quite knowing what to say. Her eyes met my wife’s with a look of, “What did he just ask?!” Our son shoveled the now loaded fork into his mouth while I kept my head down and did my dead level best not to break out in laughter.  Our daughter asked, “What did you say?” He repeated the question and reloaded his fork for round two. I could hear the wheels turning as they strove to figure out what to say. It was magnificent!

Mom: Where had this curiosity come from? I was pretty sure I’d never discussed menstrual cycles with him. Maybe he’d overheard his sister talking about it? I had no idea. But I wasn’t about to dive into that topic over orange chicken.

Dad: My wife, who is also significantly faster in processing words than anyone else at the table, looked over to our son and asked, “What do you mean by that?”

[Mom: Twenty years of parenting finally paid off!]

Dad: He looked at his sister, who then offered, “You mean at school?”

He nodded, “Yeah, how long are your class periods? They are different from mine [at the elementary].”


Clarifying questions.

As our daughter answered him, my wife and I made eye contact and it was all I could do to not say anything. Our daughter snickered, too, and her brother was left looking at all of us in bewilderment. “What’s so funny?”

Oh nothing, son. We just didn’t know what you meant at first. How’s your chicken?

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