Blurt: verb 1. An impulsive comment or question that comes across as inappropriate or unwanted. 2. To utter abruptly. 3. To speak out of turn. 4. To say something suddenly, without careful consideration.
My youngest son came home from school last Tuesday acting a little less animated than his typical mid-week, hyper-energetic, 11-year-old self. When I inquired whether he'd had a good day, he paused (which is unusual) and said, "Not really. I guess had a couple of blurts."
I nodded my head in recognition. Been there done that. Most of us have experienced the blunt reality of a blurt - when words escape from our mouths before being filtered for suitability of content or timeliness of delivery.
"What in the world did you do to your hair?" "You're serving that for dinner again?" "I thought you said you'd lost weight." "I think poodles are the worst breed of dog ever. Oh, is that your poodle? Cute dog."
Some say blurts happen when we aren't thinking. I believe it may be the opposite. A blurt occurs when our neurons catch fire (not literally) causing them to connect along previously unexplored synapses, creating a super-highway of ideas traveling at lightening speed from brain to mouth, spewing forth in the form of a blurt. Before we have time to consider whether our comment is warranted, wanted or even appropriate, the words explode outward and there's nothing we can do to suck them back in, even if we wanted to. Open mouth, insert blurt - or so the saying goes.
Consider the word itself: blurt sounds exactly like what it is. The fancy name for this concept is onomatopoeia, which is almost as fun to say out loud as blurt. You might say blurt naturally blurts - sort of like my offspring.
"What if zombies were real?" "How did people send text messages before cell phones were invented?" "Where's the longest road in our town?" "What if an anteater can't find any ants?" "Why did God create germs?" "If all the water on earth dried up, would we survive by drinking pop?" "What if aliens looked like spiders?" "Who invented toast?" "Can you drive a Lamborghini on the freeway?" "What happens when a landfill is full?" "Is it possible to hear yourself think?"
And so on. He has a question and comment and observation and opinion about everything. Every. Thing. To blurt or not to blurt - for him there is no question.
This is okay - good even, but only some of the time. Blurts are fine at the dinner table, but not so welcome in science class. But we're working on it. Really we are.
Simply put, the kid's got a lot to say. This beautiful child of mine loves words. Wonder where he got that from? He was born with an intense desire to communicate and be heard. It is a gift, and I hope it will serve him well some day. Perhaps he'll use his verbal skills to influence people in positive ways. He may be able to explain complex ideas effectively to the masses. He might find the answers to questions he and others have been asking since the beginning of time (or at least last Thursday). Or, maybe he'll be a dad who tells his kids funny stories about how he used to blurt in school just like them.
I can romanticize all I want, but as his mother, I recognize the need to de-blurt - or at least blurt in moderation. Communication involves the art of listening as well as speaking. But right now, his energy for life is so real. Palpable. Invigorating and exhausting at the same time. The minute I attempt to squelch it, I regret doing so.
Sort of like a blurt.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more columns at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.