I’m sure we say the words, “me”, “I”, and “my” thousands of times on a daily basis. After all, how else are we to convey whatever we are thinking and feeling? Personally, I find talking about myself one of the easiest subjects because, well, I’ve spent my life majoring in it. But let’s take a step back from ourselves for a second and think about those around us. In essence, let’s try to broaden our use of the terms, “he”, “she”, “it”, and “they”, shall we? In spite of how well we know the minds of our loved ones, we can never really tell what they’re thinking about. That, is until we ask them point blank.
I was sitting across from my six-year-old cousin when it occurred to me that she was lost in thought. With her hand resting beneath her chin, much like The Thinker, and her eyes focusing intensely on nothing in particular, I knew something was buzzing about that spontaneous mind of hers.
Curious to get a glimpse of what she so seriously ruminating, I asked her.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Whistling?” I was surprised. Sure, I wasn’t expecting Einstein’s theory of relativity, but whistling?
“What about it?”
“I can’t whistle.”
“Well, you can clap, can’t you?
“Yeah, but everyone can do that.”
Momentarily at a loss, I quickly answered, “How about snapping?”
“No,” she replied wistfully.
“All of my friends can snap. So can my teacher, and my dad. But I can’t. Whenever we do group activities, I have to clap instead,” she rested her head thoughtfully in her hands and looked up at me.
At this, I felt a deep sense of knowing sympathy, for I too, had been in her position when I was her age. After rousing us from our sleeping mats, our teacher would try to stimulate us further with group exercises.
We would all sit in a circle, criss-cross apple sauce, when our fearless leader and instructor, Miss Hopkins, would give us instructions.
“Everyone, stomp your feet like thunder!” she would loudly proclaim.
Gladly obliging her, all of us created a happy hullabaloo as we stomped our feet vigorously on the carpeted surface of our classroom floor.
“Great job, everyone! Now, clap like lightning!”
Certain that I would produce the loudest “lightning”, I smacked my hands together. As I did so, I was satisfied with the triumphant noise, but displeased with my red, throbbing hands.
Again, I heard Miss Hopkin’s voice amidst a sea of clapping, “Now it’s raining! Snap your fingers to mimic the sound of raindrops!”
At this, the storm of clapping gave way to the chime of sharp snapping sounds. Snap, snap, snap, they all went in a unified cacophony. But amidst the symphony of snapping, one child would not-or rather-could not participate. That child was me.
Not wanting to seem like a lonely, sour pickle, I mock-snapped my fingers, quickly rubbing my thumb and index together to mimic the action. But after several minutes, I shamefully discontinued. Who was I to steal the sounds that weren’t rightfully mine?
In retrospect, I think I took my inability to snap far too seriously. Honestly, clapping is a far more effective way of getting someone’s attention.
Pausing my own musing for a minute, I looked at my little cousin with renewed sympathy and respect.
At the faint chiming of a familiar tune from the window, I asked, “Is that the ice cream truck I hear outside?”