You are an artful way of expression that is perfected with life experience. Often used in literary works, theatrical forms, as well as everyday life, you make the obvious even more conspicuous, if you are applied with dignity and poise. Unless you are children. Specifically, mine.
My kiddos can take subtlety to a whole new level. You can almost see the hamster wheels spinning inside their heads as they casually speak as if Dear Husband and I are as clueless as backyard pumpkin growers. Whatevs. But sometimes we have fun with it, too:
Us, in the parking lot, walking towards Target:
Dear Son, age 6, (innocently): So, what are we going to buy at Target?
Me (as-a-matter-of-factly): Oh, you know, the stuff we need.
DS (such a curious boy): Like what stuff?
Me (I can put on a good act, too): Let's see... we need to get a birthday present for jie-jie's friend, mouthwash, sugar, and air filters.
DS (those hamster wheels are spinning faster): That's it?
Me (relentlessly): Yep! That's it!
DS (the wheels are burnin' baby, burnin'!): Oh.
DH (swoops right in without missing a beat): But I'm getting a toy!
DS (looks down at the ground to avert our detection of the edges of his lips on an uncontrollable upward turn): ...
Me (acting surprised): What's that I see on your face? Why are your lips moving closer to your ears? What? Is that a smile I see?
DS (finally yielding and bursts into laughter): No, I'm getting a toy!
DH (still at it): No, I'm getting a toy.
DS (finally admits defeat and concedes that his parents are better at this game than he, says to DH): You don't need a toy. I need a toy. Stop teasing me!
And that's how he got a toy.
Dear Daughter, at age 10, has had a few more years of life experience under her belt. Like her little brother, she wears her emotions on her sleeves, so it's quite easy to tell how she's feeling, though not necessary why she's feeling that way, but that's for another post altogether. Ironically, in her simple mind, she likes to get from Point A to Point B in roundabout ways. Good thing I have an automatic map app pre-installed in my brain.
DD (in a sing-songy voice): Wha-cha do-in'?
Translation: I wanna do it, too.
DD (in a sing-songy way): What-er we do-in' today?
Translation: I have something in mind and I know you can read it so just say it already!
DD (in a sing-songy tone): What's fer dinner?
Translation: It had better be something I like.
DD (in a most resigned voice): Are there any clean clothes in the dryer?
Translation: I have nothing to wear.
DD (under her breath): I wonder if there are any new episodes of So You Think You Can Dance?
Translation: I've done my reading and homework so MAY I WATCH TV?
|Waiting to catch candy at a parade. Subtle much?|
At my age, I'd like to think I've mastered the art of subtlety. As a mama, I often speak with my eyes. One look will tell the kiddos yes or no. Now or later. You-have-got-to-be-kidding-me! or Oh-for-cryin'-out-loud! And with DH, someone who has been with me for over twenty years, through my life's highs and lows, through thick and thin, for better or for worse--we've got it down pat. We don't even have to be subtle with each other. We just know each other. I finish his sentences, he knows what I'm thinking. On a rare occasion to go downtown, we name the exact same restaurant (out of hundreds, without having been to or mentioned for years) as our top dining choice. For my birthday, DH planned a dinner for me, and upon knowing whether it was in the city or not (it was not), I name the exact one he made a reservation at. We're not subtle. We're just that good.
And if there's no activity in the kitchen by 5:30 PM, DH will come ask me where I'd like to go eat for dinner.
I'm not subtle. I'm just that good.
As for DH, a man of few words, subtlety is his trademark. I examine his every move: a slight turn of the head, a look in his eyes, a twitch of his finger, or an exhale from his chest. I sense his mood and assess his state of mind. I know what's coming.
In the wee hours of the night, after the kiddos have gone to bed, we finally get some alone time. DH nudges me from across the bed, and looks at me with a twinkle in his eyes.
DH (whispering his excitement): So, should I?
Me (not finding any clues in his eyes but whispering back): Um, should you what?
DH (still twinkling): You know, get the toy?
Me (hmmm, subtle or not subtle, pick one): Toy? What toy?
DH (still excited): The toy in my amazon shopping cart? The one I found for DS? The one I've promised to get him?
Me (oh, that toy!): Um, sure! He'd be thrilled!
And that's how DS got another toy out of his daddy.
And that's how I know I need to sharpen up my wheel-spinning skills.
So, Dear Subtlety, there's nothing cuter than children trying to master the art of being elusive. Then again, there's nothing more embarrassing than grownups "missing the mark." Striking the right balance between ambiguous and precise takes skillful finesse. I look forward to my kiddos' journey in crafting theirs, all the while hoping that I'll also keep my hamster wheels well-oiled and in top spinning form. Wish me luck.