talking of which

If there's one thing I've learned from my kids, it's that just about the time I work myself into a comfortable parenting groove, where I feel like I know what to expect and what to do about it, things change.
I've learned to adapt, over and over, but that doesn't stop me from being somewhat bemused each time a new set of changes comes along, as I am now. This time, it's a big one. My daughter is thirteen. And she wants me to talk to her.
To understand why this is a big deal, I need to lay out some background. My daughter is not a talker. In fact, there was a time when I would have said my daughter had an aversion to words. For years I spoke in sound bites and practiced a whole lot of non-verbal communication skills to accommodate her because even “aversion to words” doesn't really convey the way things were. She could talk and read and write. She had a decent vocabulary for her age at any given age. But spoken words were not her friends and she didn't want too many of them in the air around her. So I adapted and learned to live and communicate with the kid who didn't like words. Now and then I'd be around other kids and it was a little startling – they talked a lot! But it wasn't a big deal.
My kid with the aversion to words wanting to sit on the couch and chit-chat? That's a big deal!
It's been interesting, to say the least. At first, I was flummoxed. And even now – as I write, this has been going on for a few months – I still kind of flounder, trying to figure out what I'm supposed to say when she gets in a conversational mood. She's not a great conversationalist, yet, so she's pretty dependent on me to keep things going. Fortunately, I've been keeping up with some of her interests so we can chat about books and comics we've both read, characters we like, creatures we like to read about and write about, that sort of thing.
I tell her about things I'm looking up on the internet and she comes and looks over my shoulder. This is the most “classical unschooling” sort of thing we do – looking things up together on the internet. Today, I was looking up the phrase “in flagrante delicto” which appeared in a graphic novel we're both reading. I had always thought it meant “buck nekkid” but it wasn't used that way in context – I explained this to Mo, and she giggled, both at “buck nekkid” and the way I was candidly admitting my own ignorance. She loves that – she's pretty sure I'm not the brightest bulb in the box and likes evidence to support her theory.
One of the things I'm learning in this new phase of our unschooling life is that Mo likes it when I get a little salty in my language. The girl who didn't approve of verbal interaction has gotten whatever sex ed she's had so far from books I've strewn (hopefully) and random sites on the internet (cringe) so I think she's glad we can finally exchange words on the subjects of bodies and sex and sexuality. I know I'm glad! I had expected a much more...um, educational kind of sex ed to happen around here. Guess that was something I needed to deschool – and Mo has been happy to help me out in that regard. So I've been working on not censoring my words and thoughts too much. I'm cussing more and outright saying things that I'd previously kept censored. One of the comics we're both reading right now is SAGA, and another is Rat Queens, both decidedly “adult content”. And from time to time we talk about that – not “how did you feel about that scene?” sorts of quizzy stuff, but real girl talk.
She especially likes it when I get silly, so I've been reaching deep into my goofy side and having fun with that. Here are a couple of examples:

We have a stuffed flamingo. His name is Casey:
Me: “Casey's been sitting in the window all day watching the hummingbirds. He says he met a bunch down when we were down in Florida... but I think he's lying about doing vodka shots with them. I'm pretty sure hummingbirds don't drink vodka.”
Mo (playing along): “what do they drink?”
Me: “Rum, for the most part. I'm skeptical because he says they were drinking in the cabana – I don't think that word means what he thinks it means.”
Mo: what does it mean?
Me: you know, I'm not entirely sure, but I know it's not a bar
We proceed to google images of cabanas.

The moon:
Me: “There's half a moon in the sky... I don't know what happened to the other half. I think it fell off. I'll get the umbrella in case of giant raining chunks of moon.”
Mo (giggling): “It's okay, I'm pretty sure it will all burn up in the atmosphere.”

This is little stuff, right? Basic, simple stuff... except that it's totally not at all. It's new and strange and wonderful around here. There are still plenty of long, slow silences and awkward bits, but our friendship is growing and changing and getting... wordier. I hadn't expected that. It's a good thing.

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