Non-native speakers don’t get tonal subtleties…

…including “I’m not going to discuss this.”

A full half of my lab grew up speaking some language other than English, and none of them (well, of those who are fluent) have trouble with this.  Frenchie or Noodles will occassionally ask me to explain some idiom or piece of slang, but they are perfectly polite and know better than to pry on rude topics.

Like “when are you going to have babies?”  Nosy just doesn’t get it.  If we get anywhere near the topic of children (unavoidable as about 50% of my coworkers have children) she asks me when I’m going to join them.  I don’t look at her, I change the subject, I even tell her point blank that I don’t want to talk about it (all Nosy does is ask why not) and I can’t get through to her.

And of course I can’t tell her to do something anatomically improbably to herself, no matter how emotionally satisfying it would be, because then I’m the one being rude and abrasive.

Frenchie, who knows I’ve had two miscarriages, tries to be comforting by telling me I’m still young.  And I know she’s trying to help on two levels, both heading Nosy off from her questions and reassuring me that I still have time.  But it just doesn’t help.  My very youth is part of what upsets me.

I am young.  And I had two miscarriages before I was 27.  How is that supposed to make me feel?  Intellectually, I grasp the statistics of it.  I know I’m at no greater risk of a third due to the previous two.  I’m thankful for my OB for giving me a gentle, but firm verbal smack upside the head whenever I get overly fatalistic in his presence.  Which I’m prone too, because I’ve had too many bad experiences sitting on a table partially or wholly clad in paper just in the past 14 months.  But I’m still young.  And in my view, that makes this worse, not better.  I should be at my healthiest, and something has gone wrong twice anyway.  How is getting older supposed to fix that?

I’m uncertain about many things in my life.  Where I’m going, how I’m going to get there, whether I even like where I’m going or how I’m getting there.  But I was never uncertain for a moment about having children.  Not that I was deluded enough to think it would be fun and easy, or a cheap way out of deciding where I’m going with my career.  It’s important to me because of who I am and it’s not something I can change.

And for the last year, I’ve faced the possibility that I can’t have what I want so very badly.  Of all the hard things in life, I never once considered this, why should I when my own mother had three of us after 30?  And it’s more miserable than I can communicate with words.  Because I have the sensation that I can’t ever have what I want, that I’m defective.  Because if there is something wrong, the doctors won’t look (and I won’t permit them to look) until after a third miscarriage.

Which means I get to sit here in uncertainty and be tormented by both rude and kind coworkers who respectively persist in wanting to know these intimate details or try to make me feel better by telling me I’m still young when it just makes me feel worse.

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2 Responses to Non-native speakers don’t get tonal subtleties…

  1. AngieK says:

    I know that telling you I understand a lot of your pain on many levels is of little consequence and comfort….but I do. It is something that sucks to talk about but if you ever need to…I certainly have an understanding that most do not.


  2. babychaos says:

    Aw man that sucks. I’m so sorry, people are such fricking morons. My sister in’law’s mum keeps asking her when she’s going to have kids, nagging her to hurry up. They’ve been trying for two years and had one miscarriage at 12 weeks, which must have been grim.

    Don’t lose hope, try not to fret and over analyse and worry, just accept that whatever will be will be but hope it will be what you want. I always wanted children but I was resigned to never having any. Now, at 39 years old, in year 11 of my marriage it looks like it may be going to happen. I know this isn’t great advice but along with the sympathy, it’s all I can give.

    Take care you.



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