Manchild is a fairly good conversationalist these days. We talk about geography. (“Rogers Ave ends at Dean Street,” I’ll say. “That’s false,” he’ll reply.) We talk about the absurdities of the world. (“Mom, did you know Hungry Hungry Hippos is a funny game because hippos don’t really eat marbles and marbles aren’t food.”) We talk about the past. (“When I was a little baby, we had two Buggy Boards and I rode on just one of them.”) We talk about the future. (“Mom, someday I want a baby sister.”) I count myself blessed that it took less than four years for us to reach this point in our lives.
But despite his chattiness, his excellent grasp on the nature of the world, and his unquenchable thirst for finding his place in it, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in redundancy. It’s exhausting to listen to him tell me, for the eighth time, about how sometimes the F train runs on the C line, and that it is an express train now because it skips Smith and 9th Street on the way to Manhattan, or that when he was a little baby . . . . And that is when I sneak away to enjoy some more sophisticated conversation.
Is it still a conversation if I don’t actually participate? Is it sneaking away if all I do is put my earbuds in and push play?
Some days my little rendezvous with Terry Gross or Ira Glass or Kurt Andersen or Mark and Simon or Jad and Robert are lifesavers. An hour or two later I take out the earbuds feeling informed, inspired, and a little less isolated. I can hear Manchild a little better as he works out his thoughts and imaginings for me. I am a little slower to lose my patience when Squish drops jars of condiments onto the tile floor. I feel more connected to the world. And, perhaps best of all, it is usually just about time for Micah to get home, which means I have someone to share my newly acquired knowledge with. Or something to talk about on our long runs.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who derives mental and physical energy from listening to other people talk. Who do you listen to? Is there a podcast or radio show that I’m totally missing out on? I subscribe to Fresh Air and This American Life, Studio 360, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Reviews, and Radio Lab. I listen to Planet Money occasionally because it is Micah’s favorite, and I’m a fan of Grammar Girl, though I don’t listen to her regularly. I’ve been told that Diane Rehm should be in my queue, and that I am probably and unsuspecting Morning Edition person. I’m always in the market for something interesting, something stimulating, something to buoy me up when I’m up to my ears in kiddie conversations.