The Sage Connection

Speculating on family quirks


Those of us who have raised children have a pretty good idea of what their personalities, dreams, goals, and foibles are by the time they reach adulthood…or so we like to think…

When circumstances in our own lives change, we may find new information about these children we thought we knew so well. For instance, if you move in with one or more of them, in your later years, you may find out all sort of interesting things about their lifestyle, personal habits and likes and dislikes.

After all, if everyone stayed the same, I would worry – there needs to be growth, change and challenges to become who we were meant to be.

My family lives on what we consider a compound. Two of my grandchildren and their families live on our property and recently, another one of my daughters moved into the main house from California.

We all work, with the exception of the great-grandchildren who attend preschool or day-care. There is always someone wandering in the kitchen to “shop” from our pantry, borrow something, or help with my latest computer/phone trauma.

We all have dogs, which we feed and care for if some of us take a trip; just as we make sure the birds and squirrels have food, and that the chickens and their eggs are looked after.

Everyone helps with the yards and gardens and everyone has their own section from which we share the harvest. We have an abundance of blackberries which the four-year-old great-grandchild keeps us supplied with, after she has eaten her fair share.

We adults have yet to enjoy any blueberries, because we only have one bush and these are her favorites, so disappear as fast as they ripen. Her two-year-old brother is not far behind and since their hands are small enough to bypass the thorns on the blackberry bushes, so far, this system works well for us.

The men are on hand to take care of repairs and bigger jobs, like moving snow, dirt, mulch, and gravel, with the help of their handy dandy tractor, and anything that requires a ladder.

All in all, it is a pretty smooth existence.

So why do I bring this up? Well, I have discovered something about my family that I find fascinating. 

We all talk to ourselves.

This may not seem like a big deal at first glance…unless you are the one attempting to answer everyone that is not talking to you in the first place.

Some days it seems like the only word I speak all day is “what?”

I find I am as guilty of this as they are – and perhaps who they learned it from. I often catch myself asking myself out loud “why did I come in here?’ Or “what was I doing?” So far, I do not answer myself, which I take as a good sign.

But my kids have full conversations with themselves. For instance, I often hear:

 “What should we have for dinner? Chicken? No, we had that a couple of days ago. Maybe a stew would be good since it’s colder today.”

Since we are all soft spoken, this muttered conversation will be followed by me saying “what?” which is followed by, “nothing, Mom. I was talking to myself.”

Sometimes they are actually talking on the phone, which will also require a “what?” from me if they are out of sight.  Even my great-grandchildren have picked up this habit.

The only ones that don’t talk to themselves are the men in the family. Since they are in-laws, I find this fascinating also.

Is it because men truly don’t listen, so have no need to respond? Are they more attuned to the nuances of speech?  Are they losing their hearing? Do they only reply if their name is called first? What is their secret?

And why don’t they share…?

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here