Back when I was a kid, growing up on the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., I was quite the jabberer. I’d jabber and jabber and jabber and jabber. About this. About that. About this and that and that and this. Look, a blue bird! I love Richard Todd! Anyone wanna eat watermelon? The earth is awesome! Where’s the beef? I wish I had wings. Jabber, jabber, jabber, jabber, jabber. One day, when she could finally take no more jabbering, my dear mother uttered the phrase she’d go on to repeat, oh, hundreds of times: “If you have nothing to say, say nothing …”
Boy, did I hate when Mom said those words. I’m not exaggerating—she was a top-shelf mother, but that sentence tore through my chest. I felt stupid and unintelligent and unworthy of the time of others. I can’t understate this point—the sentence, “If you have nothing to say, say nothing …” is the equivalent of, “Shut up, asshole.” That bad.
Anyhow, for years I resented Mom for the sentence. She made me feel small and sad, and I never understood why. What’s so bad about having a loquacious child? Why is it so awful to bring a chatter to the world?
I have spent two weeks in Costa Rica. It’s been a wonderful vacation, filled with vibrant colors and breathtaking sights and the most tranquil ocean a guy may well ever see. And, through it all … through every high and low, sunrise and sunset, my 6-year-old son has not stopped talking.
God, I love the boy. I mean, I love him as much as anyone I’ve ever known. He’s my little buddy, and he often follows me around like a puppy. That said, I’m beginning to lose my mind. There’s always an animal fact to explain; an experiment to show; an observation to set forth. He’s cute and smart and the apple of my eye, but … but … but … I need a minute. Or two. To collect my thoughts and absorb some silent bliss. To chill and kick back. To …
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I know … I know—what sort of dick thinks such a thing? Answer: Me. That said, I also listen to everything he says; try to embrace his words and give a thoughtful answer. I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever turn to him and moan, “If you have nothing to say …”
However, I now at least understand where Mom was coming from.
I feel her pain.