Weight of Words

So here’s the thing…. I realized the other night that this phrase is the one I use when I start a conversation with my children, usually, a conversation that might have some controversy or weight attached to it. And it’s a construction I use without even thinking.

The other night, after working my primary job and prepping for the start of a new session in my virtual job, I sat down in the living room. “So here’s the thing…,” I started. I felt an instantaneous change in the room. Three teenagers momentarily paused their various activities and caught their breath. Marginal—but noticeable—discomfort hung in the air while they braced themselves for what was to come. I suddenly realized that they were expecting a deep discussion. And I realized that the phrase I had just spoken is my “go to” phrase for starting difficult conversations.

So here’s the thing… I need to take an additional job for a while, which means you guys need to step it up around the house.

So here’s the thing… the class you want to take conflicts with your activities, so we have to figure out if we can work around that.

But the other night, it wasn’t a deep conversation that I was planning to have. I was tired. So I sat down, and I started the conversation. Clearly, not as I should have. “So here’s the thing…” and suddenly, I had everyone’s nearly undivided attention, though no one looked up from his or her screen. “I’m not in the mood to cook dinner tonight, so I’m looking for volunteers….”

Granted, for teenagers, that could be devastating news. What? No dinner?? That could be a heavy topic. But it was not meant to be. It was meant to be a call for help. It was meant to mobilize the troops and call them to action. In the end, mobilization didn’t happen, and we cooked up some omelets, a quick option for a tired mom.

How I came to my conversation opener, I have no idea. It has always worked. But ultimately, this incident taught me something about my approach to conversations. I really don’t know why it was that after years of using this same phrase, I had the realization of its weight just the other night. However, the knowledge that So here’s the thing… elicits an immediate emotional response in my teens means that I will be more cautious in the future. Those words, that phrase should clearly be used with care, and reserved for the conversations that carry some weight.

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