Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Conversation blackhole.

Strrrrrretching my skills as a language teacher this week - I've had 3 dinners in a row alone with Okaasan cos Yujiro was working till late with a regular taxi customer.
Making conversation with Okaasan.
First two nights were okay I guess: we got on to some topic that brought back lots of memories for her and off she chatted, while I eyed how slowly she was eating and moved stuff round my plate endlessly to make the time go quicker.
I think we had drinking-milk-as-a-child memories - and that was okay round and round for all of dinner.

But last night - oh it was grim.
Nothing I said seemed to get her chatting. I tried cherry blossoms, spring, fish, asparagus, flowers, Boys' Day Festivals, went on and on...just felt that every topic was falling into a black hole.
She wasn't unfriendly - far from it - but she never picked up the topic and returned it. Just smiled at me and glanced around the kitchen.
Like one-sided tennis.
She of course never introduces a topic, never tells us something from her day or it has to come from us. And sometimes she doesn't even do anything with what we say.
I wonder how much is to do with me struggling along in my second language Japanese? But last night she didn't seem to pick up on any of the possible conversation balls I was serving and start talking herself. All black hole.

It was exhausting. Finally I started washing up my plates and made excuses about checking the cats and prepping classes - and left her still eating at the table.
Tonight - oh joy!! I have an evening class and can escape. Leave dinner for her on the table and eat out alone - or bring something home later.

If this gets much worse, and I expect it will, I shall start PAYING my students to have conversations with me....


  1. Oh, it must be so hard. I can't quite imagine having to go through this every evening. Maybe you could make simple converstation starter sticks (you take turns picking a stick with some topic (which of course you have made ahead) read it, and then say something about it..that we you would have to rake your brain trying to think of a topic. She might like the game approach. Nancy Tsurumaki

  2. It IS hard: but Oh so luckily it isn't every evening yet - this week 2 dinners were ok cos I found a topic she wanted to chat on - but this day NOTHING I lobbed over the net seemed to spark any more than a "is that so/yes, it is isn't it" response and smiles and's hard work alone....I do have Conversation Topic idea sticks in my mind and I sift thru them trying to see which one will get her Japanese isn't good enough to chat on and on into silence...