“Mom, where are my brown shorts?” asked Jenny.
“Brown shorts?” I parroted back.
She looked pointedly at the laundry hamper from which I was loading the washing machine.
“I wore them yesterday,” she said.
“Well, this is your hamper,” I replied, digging around, “and here is your matching shirt, but I don’t see your brown shorts.”
“Oh, that’s right. I misfiled them.”
“Misfiled them?” I parroted again. *(see note)
“Yeah, I threw them at the basket and missed. They must be on the floor upstairs.”
* Note: this parroting technique is taught at communication seminars and in marriage counseling classes. By reflecting a person’s words one is able to confirm that the correct message is being heard without adding judgement or criticism. This enables the speaker to clarify his or her message without getting defensive. Do not confuse the skillful use of this method with the symptoms of DMS/DSS (Distracted Mother/Spouse Syndrome) wherein the person afflicted merely repeats words without true comprehension.