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Can We Talk? Do We Have To?

This afternoon I was making tea for the volunteers who work for our town library. I boiled up the water and hotted the pots and so forth in the kitchen while everyone ate cookies and shared stories on a cold afternoon. Several people came back for this and that and asked me if I was coming out to mingle. “No thanks,” I told them, “I think I’ve run out of small talk.”

That may present a problem as the kids grow and make friends and do sports and theater and find the crowd they socialize with because behind all of that lurks all the parents creating their own social network alongside their youngsters while driving them around, ensuring their safety, meeting at events, and getting them through school. I don’t think I can keep up with the who’s who of parents that spans 7 years and 3 kids and 6 grade levels. I’ve already been through a baseball and football season watching the same crowd gather and yak and cheer their boys on. It’ll be the same next year and evermore. I was pretty aloof which probably makes me seem callous or remote. It’s not that I can’t do all that, I’m just not in that frame of mind. Will it be better for the kids if I do?

Besides, I’m a bit tired of conventional wisdom dictating all this networking, support groups, chat rooms, listservs and social confab, like the only way to stay sane is to find people to commiserate and form a like minded bond with. They say it when you’re a parent, they say it for writers, say it for students, cops, survivors, librarians, and I’ll bet there’s someone out there saying mass murderers need support groups, too. Conventional wisdom is gospel truth - until it isn’t. If I had a support group for every endeavor I take on, I’d need group therapy to survive it.

Sometimes, I wonder if there’s isn’t just a bit too much talk about talk. Then again, I’m the one writing this blog so who am I to talk?