I have issues with staying on focus. Its worse now being a stay-at-home mother. I really only have a few pockets of time to concentrate on any one thing that is not centered around diapers, dishes, food, nap time, cleaning, etc… But also this focus issue is really amplified in another language.
Take for example, what Ellen DeGeneres says in this video clip. She tends to “leave” conversations while talking to someone. I tend to do this when in a Dutch-speaking group conversation. After the party or meeting I will ask my husband about what I think I understood. And wow!I am sometimes not even in the ballpark of what was said. I will have fixated on a word and made up a whole new story around it. Sometimes its a relief I got it wrong. “Oh thank god Marika doesn’t have cancer! I was really worried for her.” My husband just shakes his head and walks into the other room. Other times the story falls short of my creative imagination. “You mean to tell me that he didn’t propose to her at the theme park over the weekend? That actually they saw someone bending on one knee to pick up a coin at the Albert Heijn grocery store when they were there doing their weekly grocery shopping? How did I miss that one?” After some thought comes the horrifying realization that my reactions were not really appropriate to their stories. “Oh my god! They must think I’m crazy for getting up and hugging them both and saying CONGRATULATIONS!”
It requires some effort to be a participant in these conversations. If you aren’t being talked to or involved in any specific way well, its easy to take a trip to fantasy land where people are stricken with severe illnesses and planning their dream weddings. Of course, these stories are really embellishments but you get the idea. Admittedly, I have had a few embarrassing mess-ups similar to these. Now I wisely watch for how others are reacting when I’m in a group. Also my Dutch comprehension has vastly improved since those early days of misunderstandings. It takes a lot of focus, patience, and energy to communicate in another language. Sometimes it’s easiest to invent your own world.
Have you had any embarrassing moments because of a misunderstanding? Please share it in the comments!