Monday, January 26, 2009

There Must be Some Misunderstanding

When children are small, maybe around the age of 18 months or so, they begin to develop a rather intricate skill of language. Being new to this skill, they'll often mispronounce a word that they heard correctly, or mis-hear a word and repeat what they think they heard.

In my family, we have this sort of unwritten rule, that essentially says we never miss an opportunity to make fun of one another (never in a malicious way), and repeat this activity, often. People just say funny things, and very short people are certainly no exception. This language skill that kids mess up from the beginning, is a great source of material for this activity. Here are some of the words/phrases my kids have said over the years:

Ambliance = ambulance
dine-dines = dinosaurs
gee-moon = game room
chick-a-bob = great job
up day-buse = upstairs
down day-buse = downstairs
motorwood = chainsaw

I've come to realize that most of the time what happens is, kids simply repeat what they thought they heard, and unless corrected they'll just keep saying the word the wrong way. My son Samuel once heard something associated with tractor drivers, and because he was the only one who heard the correct word, to this very day no one in this house knows why he used to call tractor drivers Gom-buh-doles. We've tried to slueth that one out, but we're just stumped. We may never figure it out, so we've pretty much concluded that all tractor drivers are named Gom-buh-doles. In fact, we'll often use a "baby word" in place of the real word since some of them are just too funny. Like lilla-loon. Surely you know what a lilla-loon is, everyone has one in their home. Most people call theirs the living room, but when Ruth informed us it was lilla-loon, we stood corrected. Go ahead and say it outloud, it's a really fun word to say. (you said it outloud, didn't you!?)

Misunderstandings like this, when they're innocent and often comical, are pretty fun. Of course we all know however that miscommunication can at times be horribly devastating and not at all funny. From the professional world, in medical settings, and indeed even in our theology, it's critical that misunderstandings do not take place.

What's so curious, is just how easy it is to find yourself smack in the middle of a misunderstanding. Just recently I discovered one of my most popular t-shirt designs for sale on a site I'd never heard of before. I did a little digging via google, and found that same t-shirt design for sale at amazon, and I have never listed my designs there. Needless to say I was more than a little concerned. Partly because it was obvious someone was selling my design, and partly because the actual design was a retired one, having been replaced with a updated version just recently. I was rather upset, and the more digging I did the more evidence came forward that it was quite clear someone was unlawfully selling my old design, without my permission. On one of the sites it took a great deal of digging through layers of pages to finally get to the "complaint" section and when I finally got there, found something even more curious.

It turned out, that the seller of this design was a website that seemed familiar to me, for some reason. Since all the sites that were listing this shirt lead back to the same seller, I clicked on the last site's contact info. What I discovered was that this is a site where you, the owner of a t-shirt design, can submit your work to this site and they'll market it for you. I thought to myself "did I ever register at this site?" I clicked the login button and entered the login info I use for graphic design (assuming that might be the login info I would have used) and voila, it logged me in. Sure enough, nearly 4 years ago I registered THAT design at that site, and they'd been promoting it for me all this time. I had to laugh, since it turns out I was all prepared to accuse myself of stealing my own design. I would have demanded that the book be thrown at me too, for being so quick to assume! It was an honest mistake I suppose, but boy I would have felt incredible silly had I actually filed all the forms to complain about someone selling my design without permission, just to find out the guilty party was me all along.

In reality there is no way to completely avoid misunderstandings, but there are ways to lessen the occurance of them if we're less eager to assume, and more mindful of giving the benefit of the doubt. This is not something I've ever been very good at, but the latest little jump to conclusions episode in my life really gave me pause for thought on why assuming is not the smartest thing one can do.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family