Color Me Confused

This post and the photo above are inspired by Jeanne’s (A Nola Girl at Heart’s) weekly photo prompt, which is “color.” 

My son's "colorful" shirt
My son’s “colorful” shirt

A few months ago, my older son and I had this conversation:

Me:  “You’ve got a hole in that shirt.  We need to throw it away.”

Son:  “Where?”

Me:  “Right there on the shoulder.  It’s not on a seam so it can’t really be fixed.”

Son:  Seeing the hole.  “Awww.  You have to fix it.  It’s my favorite shirt.”

Me:  “It’s a black t-shirt.  You have at least five more.”

Son:  “But this one has so much color!”

I fixed the hole, not very well, but at least his skin doesn’t show through it anymore.  Sure enough, he continues to wear that shirt regularly.  I notice there’s another hole in the shirt and I wonder if he will wear it until it turns into a half-shirt with more holes than Swiss cheese.

Our shirt discussion is enlightening to me.  We all have preferences that we may not be able to explain, or get others to understand.  I’m on board with that.  This conversation showed me something else that I hadn’t honed in on before:  our definition of color.

This is my idea of “so much color:”

Can you see me from two blocks away?  Then it has color!
Can you see me from two blocks away? Then it has color!

It’s no wonder that sometimes our communication is off.  If we see color so differently, it makes sense that other definitions wouldn’t match up well, either.  This could explain why I end up frustrated when I ask him to “clean” his room or put something “away.”

Without the benefit of a child-to-parent dictionary, the best I can determine is that “clean” means clear a path to the bed and “away” means move the item to the closest place out of sight – not necessarily where the item belongs.

I can’t say I won’t be irritated the next time I’m searching for my potato peeler in a kitchen drawer version of “Where’s Waldo?”, but maybe I’ll remember it’s not his fault; it’s a language barrier.

Or maybe not.

57 thoughts on “Color Me Confused

  1. momsomniac January 23, 2014 / 9:31 AM

    Ha! Your son and my oldest definitely share that definition of “clean”, but I admit, when it comes to clothes, I agree with your son! Your colorful shirt scares me!

    Thanks for the laugh, as always.

    • jannatwrites January 23, 2014 / 11:55 PM

      Haha… well, that shirt is my most colorful, which is why I used it to illustrate “so much color” 🙂 Didn’t mean to scare you, Momsomniac!

  2. Robin Leigh Morgan January 23, 2014 / 9:32 AM

    EGADS !!! Is that second item LOUD, And I do mean LOUD !!!
    I would dye it a HOT PINK like the darkest pink there… OR
    I would dye it BLACK…OR
    I would just donate it to the Salvation Army so they could sell it to some poor sap or throw it in one of the huge bundles they sell as rags.

    May I ask what had possessed you to buy this in the first place. 😀 😀 😀

    Perhaps that’s why I satisfied with just solid colors or a pinstripe now and then. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:01 AM

      Dang, that’s harsh, Robin! What possessed me to buy it is it’s really cute. It looks great with gray or black slacks and sometimes a black jacket over it. I’d prove it by dressing in the outfit, but at the moment, it doesn’t quite fit (too much chocolate 🙂 )

      I’m not afraid of color – my clothes speak more loudly than I do! I’m currently searching for a pair of running shoes in bright pinks/purple…I already have a green and yellow pair.

      • Robin Leigh Morgan January 24, 2014 / 2:28 AM

        Sorry about coming off sounding harsh.
        What I wrote just proves how different tastes can be, especially regarding clothing, You and Me. You and Your Son.
        Please accept my apology

        • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 6:24 AM

          Now I feel badly – I was teasing, but since you don’t know me and this is online, you have no way to know that. I’m not offended- I still like the shirt, though I might offer you sun glasses if we were to meet in person 🙂
          No need to apologize for your opinion, Robin! I’m sorry my response came off in such a way that you felt one was necessary.

        • Robin Leigh Morgan January 24, 2014 / 8:07 AM

          Hi Janna – Just as I don’t know you, you don’t know me. I sometimes like to write things just to see what type of reaction I’m going to get, and I’m always already with a response as you can probably when I responded back to you the first. I know people have different tastes in clothes as so be it. My OH and I have been married for 20 years, albeit no children, so I don’t know what’s it’s like to go through what you’ve experience. I’m 63 years young, and I still like my solid colors, had I been your age, it would be a horse of a different color.

          Have a GREAT WEEKEND !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          PS – You’re invited to check out my profile on GoodReads.

        • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 11:22 PM

          True, I don’t know you, but I like how you are able to share your opinion. Reactions to comments can spark some interesting blog dialogue, which is a good thing, as long as participants stay nice 🙂

          Your comments prompted me to think about how I’ve changed through the years. I went from a child who wore plain clothes sized too big, to gravitating toward colors; I used to care too much what others thought and now, I couldn’t tell you if my family and friends think my clothes are crazy because I never asked for their opinions. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a post relating to this 🙂

          Thanks for the invite to read your profile, Robin. I’ve not visited GoodReads before…

      • pattisj February 4, 2014 / 8:35 PM

        My New Balance running shoes are a gray base with lime green and hot pink accents. They were so totally “not me,” but I’m liking them, a lot! It’s hard to part with some of our favorite clothes–the ones that feel so good on and fit just right

        • jannatwrites February 4, 2014 / 9:07 PM

          Your shoes sound pretty! I love colorful running shoes (the brighter, the better 🙂 )

  3. braintomahawk January 23, 2014 / 9:33 AM

    I think it is that the colors contrast more against the black background – just the red blue green contrast is pretty cool!

    Also I will side on that it is clearly a ‘favorite’ shirt. It’s broken in soft and just fits right. He probably has some good memories of it. So yes, until it is worn out, let him keep it 🙂

    You’ve inspired a post – THANK YOU!

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:02 AM

      Oh, I won’t get rid of it. I remember my brother had a few thread-bare shirts that he would always wear and the new ones would remain untouched in his closet. I’m glad it inspired a post, BT… can’t wait to read it!

  4. Michael January 23, 2014 / 9:59 AM

    Those definitions of “clean” and “away” usually work for me…. 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:03 AM

      Haha… so I can give up any illusions that we’ll ever be on the same page? 😛

  5. nrhatch January 23, 2014 / 11:02 AM

    Ha! We do see the world behind our eyes.

    I have a favorite shirts with holes in them. I keep them until they look like “swiss cheese” . . . while other, whole and hole-less shirts hang unworn in my closet. Go figure.

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:04 AM

      I have some go-to shirts, too. There comes a point where I do finally part with them (and that’s usually long after decency would’ve dictated I nix them!) Thanks for reading, Nancy!

  6. suzicate January 23, 2014 / 11:55 AM

    ha, the old communication gap we thought we’d never have with our kids. I remember being irritated with my mom when she didn’t get what I was saying…every day I find my mom and I more and more on the same page…and my kids and I are getting closer to understanding one another!

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:06 AM

      Maybe someday we’ll get there, Suzicate! Sometimes things get interesting around here 🙂

  7. Debbie January 23, 2014 / 12:55 PM

    So funny, Janna — and that second shirt? W-a-a-a-y too loud for me! One could blame it on the male-female difference, but perhaps it’s simply a parent-child thing. Regardless, take heart. One day, you’ll speak the same language!

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:09 AM

      Haha…yes, it is a bright shirt – the brightest one I have, but it’s a perfect shirt to brighten my day when my mood is a little blue. My favorite shirt right now is a hot pink long-sleeved t-shirt…in close second is a red shirt that has some embroidery and beading.

      As for speaking the same language… my hope is one day that will happen, Debbie!

  8. kathy29156 January 23, 2014 / 1:24 PM

    This is so funny and true. Often our idea of something is way different than what our kids think it is!! ♥

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:10 AM

      Too often, Kathy! I’m finding I have to be specific even when I think meaning should be obvious 🙂

  9. nrhatch January 23, 2014 / 1:49 PM

    This might interest you, Janna:

    Among other things, Simon & Schuster is starting a Sci-Fi imprint and Penumbra Magazine wants Super Hero stories. And the Fog Horn is paying $1000 a story (for 1200-8500 words).

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:11 AM

      Oooh, thanks for the link, Nancy. I’ll check it out! Who knows, maybe I’ll even give something a chance rather than count myself out without even trying 🙂

  10. Carol Ann Hoel January 23, 2014 / 2:59 PM

    I like your colorful top. I remember what it was like when my children were teenagers. It started even sooner than that with my son. When he was an adult, we were looking at old photo albums. He didn’t recognize himself at about 15 years old with a longish haircut. He asked me why I let him do it. Ha! I reminded him that he had a very strong and very different opinion about it back in the day. I felt back then that he should be given some latitude on matters that were not a danger to him or others. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:13 AM

      Finally, someone who likes the shirt 🙂 Thanks, Carol Ann!

      I know what you mean about the hair… my older son went through the shaggy hair thing and it didn’t really look good. He finally decided on his own to get it cut (mainly because he got tired of trying to comb it out.)

  11. Widdershins January 23, 2014 / 4:30 PM

    Give him a needle and thread and he can sew up the next hole. 😀

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:15 AM

      Shoot, it would never get done, Widdershins- the holes don’t bother him one bit 🙂

  12. nolagirlatheart January 23, 2014 / 5:35 PM

    I love color, but in small increments…thanks for the link up.

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:15 AM

      Thanks for the ‘color’ idea, Jeanne!

  13. Eric Alagan January 23, 2014 / 7:07 PM

    I can understand where you son is coming from – it’s a son thing, I believe.

    For many years, my son wore a t-shirt. It was old as in ancient and a prime candidate for the museum, the fabric sagged and it had so many holes that Lisa referred to it as “holy shirt”. But he would not give it up, ever. He lives in NYC now but that t-shirt is still here in his wardrobe in Singapore, because that’s what he wears whenever he is back on visits.

    I like that idea about a child-parent dictionary.

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:17 AM

      Hahaha… too funny about your son’s shirt, Eric. Thankfully, my son is bound to grow out of this one soon. But I’m not kidding myself, it will probably be replaced by another!

  14. Lance January 23, 2014 / 7:13 PM

    I live with all women and they dress me. I have no fashion sense.

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:18 AM

      Haha… you might be better off than some, Lance 🙂

  15. agjorgenson January 23, 2014 / 7:53 PM

    With the last daughter of three off to university, I am still trying to adjust to the idea that the kitchen I left clean before i went to work is still clean when i come home! And this from the one who describes herself as neat, and organized, which she is. But in a different way.

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:20 AM

      Oh, that must be a wonderful thing, Allen! My kids aren’t great about loading dishes without being told… then I usually have to call them back to rinse the sink. It’s always a big ordeal. Bigger than it should be.

      • agjorgenson January 24, 2014 / 7:49 AM

        Yes, I remember the first time one of my kids came back from university and emptied the dishwasher without being asked – I nearly fell off my chair!

        • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 11:06 PM

          Now, that would be shocking, Allen. That’s the stuff my dreams are made out of 🙂

  16. Imelda January 23, 2014 / 8:54 PM

    Ha! Your post helps me understand more the workings of a child’s mind.

    Your shirt hole conversation with your son reminds me of similar conversations with my husband. I tell him to put in the trash some shirts that have many holes. His standard reply was: “are you kidding me? My shirts have just become comfortable.”

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 12:22 AM

      My husband has a handful of t-shirts from a job he had for nearly 13 years. I disliked the job and the shirts, but he still wears them. I’ve contemplated a nasty bleach accident, but so far, they are unharmed 🙂

      Glad you stopped by, Imelda!

  17. diannegray January 24, 2014 / 1:22 PM

    So true, Janna! ‘Clean up and put things away’ to a teenage boy means ‘scoop everything up and throw it in a drawer of cupboard’. This is hilarious! 😀

    Communication is vital in any relationship. I have a relative who refuses to argue with anyone because she always says ‘they know what they’ve done wrong’ (and this drives her husband to despair). I say to her ‘people don’t know unless you tell them’ but she doesn’t quite get it 😉

    • jannatwrites January 24, 2014 / 11:26 PM

      I don’t argue with my family because I don’t engage in arguments I can’t win 🙂 However, I don’t have a problem telling my husband what’s on my mind!

      Thanks for stopping by, Dianne!

  18. Jean January 25, 2014 / 1:30 PM

    Uh, hello. This is awesome. I love moments when I gain clarity and perspective with my parenting stuff. It happens so very rarely lately because the kids are at crazy ages simultaneously. And you made it funny. Love it!

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 7:36 AM

      Thanks, Jean! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I try to look at the aggravations in a funny way… or else I’d be even more crazy 🙂

      • Jean January 27, 2014 / 7:54 AM

        It is the soul of comedy, right?

  19. momtheobscure January 25, 2014 / 3:18 PM

    the next time I’m searching for my potato peeler in a kitchen drawer version of “Where’s Waldo?”
    Glad to know I am not the only one with this problem – but it’s mostly me and my husband putting things away in different spots!

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 7:37 AM

      Haha, well, my husband does it too, but mostly, it’s the kids. Easier to drop something in a drawer that’s already open rather than put something where it belongs 🙂 Thanks for reading, Momtheobscure!

  20. Lala Rukh January 26, 2014 / 9:33 AM

    Lol I follow the definitions of ‘clean’ and ‘away’ as your son does 😉 I wish Mom’s could understand us 😛 And I wish there could be a child to parent and parent to child dictionary…It’ll help a lot. Your colorful shirt is quite gorgeous by the way, I love experimenting with colors ! Lovely post 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 7:39 AM

      I’m glad you like the shirt, Lala… I thought the colors in it were “happy” ones. I’d rather not live in a uniform of grays and blacks 🙂 Maybe someone will write that parent to child dictionary… they do translations between other languages!

  21. GodGirl January 27, 2014 / 4:14 AM

    Haha… I wonder if it’s any different with girls? I have two boys (and one husband), and their definitions are always different to mine!

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 7:40 AM

      I don’t know, GodGirl… I have two boys as well, so I really don’t know how much is gender!

  22. Sandra January 29, 2014 / 9:03 AM

    Maybe it’s their age? DD and I have these conversations all the time. It’s amazing how people interpret, I mean, stretch, definitions!! 🙂 (Most overheard from DD: But I DID!)

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:40 AM

      Stretching definitions is about right, Sandra! I do think age has something to do with it. When my younger son comes to me crying, I can no longer ask my older son if he hit his brother. I have to ask, “did you hit, kick, pinch, or touch your brother in any other way?” in order to find out what happened 🙂

  23. pattyabr February 2, 2014 / 10:09 PM

    I think there should be a protective clause for all parents regarding their children’s belongings or clothes. Either way you cannot win. I keep T-Shirts that have special meaning to me that my children wore and they keep T-shirts and items that I think is junk. I just hope to give them all their belongings and they can throw their own stuff out.

    • jannatwrites February 2, 2014 / 10:23 PM

      I don’t get in the way of what they wear on most days. The exceptions are school photo day and when we do a family photo for Christmas. Even then, I let them choose, but I have veto power! Probably a good idea to let them weed through their own stuff, Patty 🙂

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