Thursday, December 2, 2010

Use your words

By Elizabeth Long

Elizabeth with her niece
More than 10 years ago after my sister's divorce, both she and my niece moved in with me.  It has been a wonderful experience.  From rocking my niece to sleep when she had an earache, to crying when we took her to school for her first day of kindergarten, I have had the unique blessing of being a part of her daily life.

My niece is now 13.  She has an amazing since of humor, she's very intelligent, she's kind and thoughtful, she's loving...and she texts like I've never seen before.

Recently, our family drove several hours to attend a close friend's wedding.  While in this new town for a few days, we realized that there were a few things we needed from the store.  As we drove, we discussed the items we needed to purchase.  Then, while at a red light, my phone stared beeping, alerting me that I had a text message.  It was my niece.  She was texting me, from the backseat, to tell me what additional items she thought we needed to pick up from the store.  Really?  I turned to her and said, "Use your words."  She smirked, "I did!"

You see, my sister is a preschool teacher.  She is constantly telling her students to "use your words."  She does this because her students are so young, they often don't know how to express themselves other than crying, biting or throwing things.  As my niece earned her cell phone privileges the last few months, I noticed how little she talks on the phone and how much she texts.  Good grief, when I was her age, you would have had to surgically remove the phone from the side of my face.  I most definitely knew how to "use my words."

But what I've come to realize is this: teenagers today are really no different than we were at their age.  They still have plenty to say, to discuss and to dissect.  The only thing that's really different is the way in which they choose to "use their words." 

Elizabeth Long is a Sr. Communications/Public Relations Specialist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.

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