“Watch your mouth.”
Growing up, I often heard this from my mom when she thought I was sassing her. Being disrespectful.
Which, admittedly, I did. Quite frequently. Too many words and too much attitude.
Entrepreneurs have taken Mom’s admonition and turned it into a card game: Watch Ya Mouth. Folks wear a mouthguard and have to read phrases as teams try to interpret the garbledy goop that comes from hampered speech. It’s funny just listening to people try to talk.
Really, that’s all I wanted Mom to do. Understand what I was trying to say. My words were always loud and clear. Which was the problem.
We had a similar game when I was younger. It didn’t use a mouthguard–just large marshmallows. You’d stuff your mouth with as many as you could and try to say, “Chubby bunnies.” Packed cheeks have the same effect on speech as a mouthguard.
Ryken, at three, is quite verbal and has tons of questions to ask. He will also supply answers to just about anything anyone else asks. When he inserted the mouthguard, however, he was unintelligible. Small mouth. Large impediment.
He looked like a giant sucker fish.
He couldn’t make anybody understand him. But trying made everything funny. It didn’t matter what he was saying.
If I’d had one of those things as a kid, I could have made Mom forget all about my sass and just laugh.
Games are like that. They bring people together to relax and enjoy one another. Our family has a penchant for board games, card games and anything that causes groups to gather and laugh out loud.
Games are great ice breakers because they allow people to drop inhibitions and be themselves. Playing takes the pressure off managing an image. If you put your foot in your mouth and say something goofy, Another opportunity to laugh.
Life isn’t a game. Fun has its place. As much as I sassed Mom growing up, you’d think I’d have learned the value and timeliness of words at a younger age. When to speak up to make a point. When to bite my tongue and not feel like I have to have the last word.
I struggle with that. I grew up in an environment that reflected judgmental attitudes and frequent criticism. It was a parenting style my folks were raised with and defaulted to using on us. Hurtful words were what I expected. What I didn’t expect was that I could be just as critical.
I genuinely wish I had a guard for my mouth and another for my thoughts. I may not voice my judgmental attitude, but I’m thinking it. I can lighten words with snarkiness, but it doesn’t take the sting out of what I say.
God gave us an incredible gift of being able to communicate with one another. Words matter. It’s often not what we do to others that causes so much pain, but what we say. A critical spirit isn’t fun and games. It’s often death to a relationship.
I’m learning. I catch myself quicker than I used to. One of those life-long lessons.
Watch my mouth. Constantly.