Tag Archives: communication

Mixed Massages: when what we say isn’t always heard

The view on the way down from Hanging Lake

Last week while visiting beautiful Colorado, I partook in a mixed-message massage that went something like this:

  • Masseuse: What are you looking for today?
  • Me: Well, I went hiking yesterday, so an overall massage would be great.
  • Him: Okay.

Only it apparently wasn’t okay.

I know because I’ve had massages before. Massages where my WHOLE body got a good rub down. Massages that actually targeted the muscles you specify. Massages that didn’t ignore the single largest muscle in your body, as well as the ever-important-to-mountain-climbing quads.

My masseuse, bless his heart, was either deaf or didn’t understand that my rear end was included in the I-went-hiking-whole-body-massage request. When it came time for working out the kinks in my gluteus maximus (aka, the largest muscle in the human body and one that is used extensively while hiking a mile and a half straight uphill to see an incredibly beautiful lake), he threw another blanket over my bum and poked at it like one might use a stick to prod a presumed-dead animal on the side of the road. When I rolled to my back, the only muscles not ignored were in my feet.

What I thought I said (a full body massage) and what he heard (only the parts you like most) were two completely different things.

Does this ever happen to you? Dear writers, how do you employ mixed messages to ramp up the tension between your characters? Dear readers, do mixed messages work in the books you peruse, or do you get tired of the main characters’ inability to communicate properly? 

As a married mother of four, I can attest that mixed messages occur on a regular basis. Thankfully, though, I’ve only had one mixed massage.

 

Kids 101: for writers and parents

Eldest is in the process of a huge class project for English.  His group is making an infomercial.  Needless to say, our house was the hot spot for filming Butter Nuggets.  Yeah, I know, total slang with a twist.  I’m sure Mr. Henry will approve.

The premise behind this cheesy cracker is that it makes your wish for bigger and better come true.  Just sprinkle Butter Nuggets onto your toy car and *shazowy* it’s a full size Mazda. 

Dipping your toes in the plastic swimming pool not good enough?  *kabam*  It’s a full size watering hole.

My favorite, however, is one Eldest will regret.  One of the gals is talking on her cell phone when her little “brother” (my youngest) annoys the heck out of her.  She wishes for a big brother. 

Enter Eldest, wearing Youngest Son’s outfit from the previous take.  Oh joyful laughfest.  This coming from the kid who refused to wear his rain jacket in kindergarten because someone called him a fireman.  The shirt barely covered his rib cage.  We won’t talk about the shorts.  At least not on the blog.

But it does bring to mind a question for both parents and juvenile lit writers.  How many of us are truly tapped into the world these children are living? 

In so many ways, the world is a different place than when we were growing up.  Kids are immersed in technology.  Friendships are born of ten word texts and virtual games.  Hand held devices are interacted with more fervently than a real person.  We can see this with the naked eye.  

But underneath it all kids are still kids.  They laugh and cry, love and hate and are passionately funny.  Hang with them before writing about them.  Hang with them when raising them.  Get to know them–really know them–and I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Kids are great people. 

They are smart, friendly and social.  Make them pizza and let them talk.  Crack a root beer and listen.  Make yourself available and you’ll be amazed at how readily they accept you in their lives. 

If you write for kids, you must know your audience.  They are more than your memories and better than the outward signs you see in the mall.  If you are raising them, it is vital to create a connection of communication and respect. 

Laugh with them, love them and enjoy them before they eat too many Butter Nuggets. 

As funny as it was to see the “transformation” of the younger brother to the older brother in the space of an out-take, this section of the infomercial really hit home.  Kids grow up way too fast. 

As parents and/or writers, how do you stay connected to the younger set?  Do you feel it’s important to know kids individually or is it okay to lump them as a whole?  Do you have someone to give you an honest eye roll and let you know you’re on target, or are you guessing based on your own memories?

Because I can tell you that memories are faulty.  If we base our work off them, we will be doomed as writers.  Ditto for parents. 

hugs~ cat