We all have conversational tics. We had a university lecturer who said, “um”, so much that we used to take bets at the start of the lecture if he would crack 200. They are one of those things that most people just don’t notice, unless it’s pointed out. We all “um”, “ah” and “er” our way through many a conversation.
Having children, I have developed a whole new list of verbal tics which I don’t even notice, and am able to carry on a conversation with my friends, barely aware they are happening. I have recorded for posterity, a typical conversation between me and my friend Jane when we each have two children with us. We have similar verbal tics to each other. I have highlighted them in caps and italics, just in case you fail to notice them too.
Me: Nice to see you, Jane. How are you doing?
Jane: I’m good thanks. How was your weekend?
Me: Really nice, thanks. We spent some time with the family and ELDESTGIRL, DO NOT LICK YOUR SISTER just chilled out really.
Jane: Oh that’s lovely. We went to the local farm park and the little ones fed the goats. It was funny because ETHAN, DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN THAT. DO NOT TOUCH THAT, ETHAN, Ethan was a bit scared of the sheep, and Timothy was TIMOTHY! WE DO NOT PUT LEGO UP OUR NOSE scared of the horses, so we spent most of the time in the soft play.
Me: Cup of tea?
Jane: Lovely, thank you. TIMOTHY I HAVE TOLD YOU TWICE NOW. TAKE THAT LEGO OUT OF YOUR NOSE. Could I have slightly more milk? Thanks.
Me: Did you see the news earlier this week about North YOUNGESTGIRL! WE DO NOT PULL HAIR! WE. DO. NOT. PULL. HAIR. Korea?
Jane: Yes, absolutely. It’s just such worrying times we’re living in.
Me: You never know what’s mostly likely to finish us off: World War III, global warming, terrorism or YOUNGESTGIRL! DO NOT DO THAT TO THE CAT! whichever food is causing cancer this week. Biscuit? NOT YOU, ELDESTGIRL! EAT YOUR BANANA.
Jane: Lovely, thanks. I was reading this article the other day about the rise of power consumption in China and ETHAN, IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU ONE MORE TIME, WE ARE GOING HOME. PUT YOUR TROUSERS BACK ON.
Me: It’s nice to actually have a proper STOP IT! conversation, isn’t it? YOUNGESTGIRL, DO NOT THROW YOUR BANANA AT THE CAT!
Jane: It really is. Sometimes it feels like I don’t get to speak to another adult TIMOTHY, HANDS OUT OF YOUR PANTS for days on end. It’s really good to actually discuss world politics. LEAVE YOUR WILLY ALONE!