I am convinced that most of us would not know our children if it were not for their appearances. I for one, would not recognise my teen and tween. The child who answers me by nods and shakes of his head, with a shrug thrown in for emphasis, recently came home with a report card that waxed eloquent about his communication skills. Getting him to say a few words at home, needs more preparation than pulling out teeth. If you ask him what he wants for food, he shrugs. The offer for seconds at the dining table is rebutted with a shake of the head. Enquire about his day at school and you will see the familiar shrug. Push him for details and you will get a pained 'nothing happened'. I sometimes wonder why we spend so much on a school where nothing happens.
As for the teenager, he has elevated non communication to an art form. He seems to hibernate in his room and his style would impress a bear. The first two summons for dinner elicit no response, the third one may get you a muffled 'coming'. Fifteen minutes later, the fourth angry summons will get you a double 'coming, coming'. It will be a full ten more minutes before you see him. A mumbled sorry is all that you get by way of explanation. The very same child was voted in almost unanimously, by teachers and peers alike, as the Head boy of his school. At the investiture ceremony, all I heard was how helpful, articulate and attentive he is. I am sure the teachers were puzzled by my strange expression of pride mingled with perplexity.
I would have continued in that uncomprehending haze, except that a friend called the other day and complained about her impeccably behaved (as far as I know) son and his ways at home. Then it dawned on me. We do not know our children. Others seem to!