“No, she’s copying me!”
When I was a kid, the way to annoy anyone was to begin parroting them when they talked. Repeating back word for word what they said. And if I could add inflection, facial expression and gestures that mimicked my poor prey, all the better.
I was especially adept at it with my twin sister. Annoying her became an art form.
Nothing gets under the skin quicker than hearing your words thrown back at you. Like any ugly echo. Mocking stereo.
So, as I was sitting with a cup of coffee, talking with my oldest daughter, her daughter, Sydney, began parroting me.
“I’m not quite sure what to make of it.”
“I’m not quite sure what to make of it,” an octave higher.
So I laughed. As did Syd.
“No more, Sydney. You’re being annoying.” Her mom gave her the “you better behave or you’ll be dealing with me” look.
Syd’s frown said it all.
I can remember when I played this game, and the shoe was on the other foot, that I would say something that would be ridiculous. Or even hurtful to the other person. Phrases like, “So and so is stupid” or “So and so can’t do anything right.”
If they dared copy, they’d be speaking poorly of themselves. If they didn’t respond, I won.
As an adult, I’ve found my words matter more. I engage people in conversation, I make comments on ideas and express my thoughts and I (too frequently) say things that are (possibly?) rash and not thought through. And people listen.
The other day, I dropped a container of yogurt, and without thinking, I said, “Oh, puke.” Isley was standing there, watching me. Listening. And when she spilled her water a short time later, I heard, “Oh, puke.”
Followed by, “What’s puke, Nana?”
I’m discovering that when I say things, people who care about me or possibly look up to me (grandkids) feel as if I’ve given them permission to say the same things.
Is what I say really worth parroting? Or are my words like a worthless waste of air space?
Solomon, the wisest king ever, knew the value of good words.
“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24
What I say can have a positive effect on others.
Or I can slay others with my words.
It’s my choice.
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29
My words can elicit a variety of responses.
People can agree or disagree with what I say. They can be encouraged by my words. They can be angered or offended by my comments. Or they can use what I say as a justification for saying something similar.
If there would be anyone I’d like to parrot, it’s Jesus.
What words of mine would I like someone else to parrot?
*Picture of parrots courtesy of ask.com.