Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gift of Gab?

I was born to talk.  Or, as my Irish ancestors might say, I was blessed with the "gift of gab."  Although, throughout my life I haven’t always seen it as a gift—talking was something that I just couldn’t help doing, and once I had a captive audience, more often than not my family, I just couldn’t seem to stop.  As soon as my family was trapped in the car, I would start in: a detailed retelling of a book I was reading, what was going on at school, the workings of a game I had played at my friend Jessie Heiss’s house the day before.  You name it, I could go on for hours about it.  My family needed entertainment during the car ride, right?  Finally, my mom would gently interrupt me.  “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude to you Gretchen, but do you realize that no one else has had the chance to say a single word since we’ve been in the car?"


Now that you mention it, I guess I hadn’t noticed the glazed over look in my parents’ eyes, or my little sister busily picking her nose next to me and not paying me the slightest mind.  I slowly began to realize that other people didn’t always love my talking as much as I did.   As my Mrs. Cottrell, my Kindergarten teacher, told me early on, “Gretchen, you have to break the talking.”  I loved school, but clearly talking was not looked well upon there, especially in a Catholic school where you are graded on CONDUCT.  This was a problem for me because the one thing that I loved even more than talking was pleasing my teachers.

When I was in second grade, my mom got the following piece of bad news from my teacher, Mrs. Bell. “I'm sorry, Mrs. Dougherty.  Gretchen is not going to make the Principal’s list.  She’s got A’s in all of her subjects, but I just cannot in good conscience give Gretchen an A in conduct.  There are just other kids in the class that don’t talk out.”

My mom was quickly able to commiserate because every day upon walking in the door from school, I would recount for my mom the entire school day starting with what the teacher was wearing, then moving into a play-by-play retelling of nearly every conversation that went on in the room—I, of course, being involved in most of them.  This would go on until about dinner time.

Oh, and speaking of dinner time...

At this time in my life, I just didn’t have the social savvy to pick up on non-verbal cues indicating that perhaps I should give the talking a rest.  Case in point, I can remember many evenings of my childhood in which this event played out:  me sitting alone at the dinner table, getting in a few bites of food during the slight pauses in my very important and interesting story.  By this time, the rest of my family had long since finished eating and left the room, and my mom would be leaning against our sink, dishrag in hand, waiting patiently for my plate because she had already washed and dried every other pot, dish, cup, or utensil associated with the meal.

And I, obliviously, didn’t see the problem with this.

The older I got my talking problem had worse consequences, like getting my name on the board with multiple checkmarks (thank you Ms. Drees) or being kept after school (which at least gave me time to get in an extra game of The Oregon Trail).

As time went on, I began to get my talking somewhat under control.  Being a natural born talker can be a gift.  I can talk to anyone, at anytime, about anything.  But more often than not, it is a curse that I consciously have to keep in check.  That is, if  I want to have any friends.  Granted, I can still get carried away at times, but I generally try to remember that people like to be listened to (I of all people should know this) and I don't have to be the one dominating the conversation at all times.

Being a talker is who I am; it is part of what makes me, me, so I must celebrate it--within reason that is.


  1. I love your latest snippet of truth! This gift of gab must be genetic (I think I've got it too)! Love You!

  2. Talking? Isn't that what we were born to do?:-)

    I love your blog and look forward to every entry. You are able to write as an adult but maintain the child's point of view with wonderful balance. Definitely a book!

  3. How is this working out for you as a teacher? Are you sympathetic of students with the "gift" of gab? Love you, Gretchen!!

  4. Brandy Nicole WashingtonSeptember 17, 2010 at 6:40 AM

    I can totally relate to this story. I cannot count the times that when in "circle time" during elementary, that I was told, "Brandy, please get to the point..." Oddly, now that I am an adult, I don't talk NEARLY as much, I hate being on the phone, and most of my talking is done to my children. Gasp! Have I somehow lost MY "gift of gab?"