When Family Conversations Just Go Wrong

birds circling our head-family

I’d just gotten Tiny-Small buckled into her car seat. I was sitting in the drivers seat trying to catch my breath when my phone rang. Sometimes family conversations just don’t go well.

Let me back up a bit here. Last night we had tickets to go watch some Irish River dancing, except they were called “Rhythm Dancers” because they were not THE River Dancers. Tiny-Small and I were meeting Jim at the theater because he was coming straight from work. The hours prior to getting into the car had been hectic because Tiny-Small woke up from her nap cranky, did not want to eat anything we actually had in the house and refused to shower. She had to shower because she had oatmeal glued into her hair with honey. We were a whirlwind of drama and trauma and ballet dresses by the time we got out of the house and into the car. I’d felt like I had run a marathon and the night was just beginning.

So, I sat in the car for a moment doing some deep breathing and fantasizing about staying home (even though I am so tired of staying home) and the phone rang. It was Jim. I put him on speaker phone because I was getting ready to go down the driveway.

Me: Hello?

Jim: Did you leave yet? I am leaving now.

Me: We are in the car, leaving now.

Tiny-Small: We go to the dance, Dada!

Jim: What?

Me: She said, “We go to xokcojpfjnsdknkf.”

Tiny-Small: Dada, we go to hsjdhfefqbvl;qdnjv. (we were speaking at the same time).

Jim: What?

Me: We are leaving now. She wants you to know we are going to watch dancing.

Tiny-Small: Is Memé coming?

Me: No, Memé is not coming.

Jim: What?

Me: She wants to know if Memé is coming.

Tiny-Small: Waahhh I want Memé to dance…wahhhhh!

Jim: What?

Me: She wants to know if Memé is coming.

Jim: Who?

Tiny-Small: Memé go to dance too …Wahhh! Wahhhh!

Me: Memé. She wants to know if Memé is coming.

Jim: Coming where?

Tiny-Small: Where Memé? Wahhh I want Memé.

Me: Memé is not coming. She is home.

Jim: What?

Tiny-Small: Memé is home?

Jim: Memé is going with us?

Me: NO! MEME IS NOT COMING! SHE IS NOT COMING! (Yelling, probably foaming at the mouth).

Tiny-Small: I want Memé Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (infinity).

Jim: You don’t have to yell.

Me: We’ll meet you there.

Jim: What?


Jim: Why are you yelling? I can’t hear you.

Me: I’m sorry. I am just tired of saying everything twice.

Jim: What?

Me: I’ll meet you there. I’ll meet you there!!!

Jim: OK!

Tiny-Small: Where my Memé???! Wahhhhh……

Me: She is home. She’s not coming.

Jim: Where are you now?

Me: Still in the driveway.

Jim: I hope we get there before it starts.

Me: I’ll meet you there.

Jim: Where?

Me: I’ll meet you in the parking lot.

Jim: What?

Me: We will meet you there. I am hanging up now.

Jim: OK. See you in the auditorium.


We made it to the theater. We watched the dancing and singing. A fun time was had by all.


Want to read a few more conversations we’ve had? Read this – Communication: Is It Important For a Marriage?




21 thoughts on “When Family Conversations Just Go Wrong”

  1. This is why I don’t like talking on the phone, especially cells. Even without a toddler in the background, the attempts at conversation are always a series of “What did you say?” and repeating oneself. Just text me, please!

    1. My husband and I have some trouble. He was in the Army and probably has some hearing loss and my voice is kind of on the high side. He says “what?” a lot when we are on the phone. I try not to mind, but after a while I just don’t want to keep saying the same thing over and over again. I am repeating myself a lot with Tiny-Small during the day and my mom is getting the same way Jim is on the phone. I rarely get away with saying anything once these days! It’s funny, but also gets exhausting. I am trying to teach Jim to text, but he likes calling better. He is a talker. A lot of the time I just let him do most of the talking on our cell phones. It’s just easier!

      1. OMG I relate to this! I think my husband either has hearing loss he’s denying, or maybe it’s just cell phone connections, but most of our convos consist of overlapping “what?” and saying the same thing way too many times. Thankfully, we work together, so spend most of the day in the same place…

        1. Yes! Sometimes Jim will even pretend to hear what I am saying and I find out later he really couldn’t hear me. I think he must get tired of saying “What?” as much as I get tired of hearing it!

  2. Haha I didnt realise you are so patient! I would have hang up at least after the second “what”. I lose my nerves easily while having conversations like that…And may I ask what is “meme”? Is it Grandma?

    1. I am the most patient person I have ever met. It’s almost a fault. I am pretty sure that is why Jim married me…haha!

  3. Oh no – maddening! I assume Meme is a stuffie? Glad it all ended in a good time – life with kids is so up and down, eh?!

    1. Memé is my mom…Tiny-Smalls grandma. She will get a kick out of someone thinking she is a stuffie. I am giggling about it right now. Mostly, I wish she were a stuffie sometimes so we could take her with us more. Tiny-Small would be so happy!

  4. This sounds like the conversations I have with Brian regularly on the phone. He always has to repeat himself and gets super frustrated and just ends up saying, “I’ll talk to you when I get home because I am tired of saying everything twice.” Cell phones have become amazing computers but terrible phones.

    1. I agree! Also, Jim sometimes says what just to give himself time to think. I tend to say ohhmmmm…but he says, “What?” so half the time I don’t even know if I should repeat myself or just wait.

  5. Hmmm. Well I would conclude that (1) you have a bad cell phone connection (2) your husband needs to see an audiologist or (3) the two of you are stressed out by the bad cell phone connection 😉 Anyway this is why I think modern technology was secretly invented by the devil.

    1. I am going to go with all of the above on this one. Don’t forget the screaming toddler too! She insists on being center stage. Since we live in the middle of nowhere these are also sources of entertainment. We’ll be laughing about this for weeks. Well, at least I will be laughing about this for weeks!

  6. The Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) said as his last words “All things must pass. Strive for your liberation with diligence.” Wise words to keep in mind as a mantra during these kinds of situations which are inevitable;-)

  7. I can’t be witty or charming right now because I can’t stop laughing. This was every conversation. EVERY. And the kids are now 13, 12 and 8 and it is STILL every conversation. 😀

    1. How do any of us ever get anything done? Seriously, it is amazing we can communicate at all, isn’t it?

  8. Oh so painful. This is what it’s like when I talk to my dad. Except we are always trying to talk at the same time, so it’s a constant back and forth game of, “What? Go ahead.” “No that’s Ok – you go.” “What?” “YOU go.” and so on.

    1. That is so my husband! He doesn’t always wait for me to say anything so we are often interrupting each other. There have been times where I was on the phone and he was talking and I had to set the phone down to chase Tiny-Small around the house (like when she got my scissors). I’d tell him “hang on a sec” but he would just keep talking. Three minutes later and he is still talking and has no idea I wasn’t even in the room.

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