Mum Zone! Stop! Speech Limit: 25 words per minute!

It was a beautiful day today in Chicago. The sun was shinning, the wind was high, and in typical Chicago fashion, the Magnificent Mile was packed with pedestrians and motorists. It is also the time of year when the boats slowly make their way to the docks. Therefore, the bridges went up today for the first time this year to let the boats through. We don't mind the delays this creates, whether one is on the way to church or like today, just hanging out. It is always something interesting for which people stand and watch with glee.

I put my phone down to really look around me and this infrequent act opened my eyes to a couple of things about human interactions in present times. Do you remember the days when we had no cell phones or ipods? Well, for me it's a distant memory as I think it is for you. Do you remember when listening to your friend's conversation meant looking him/her straight in the eyes and making occasional mindful interjections? I do, and this principle still holds true today because it tells the person speaking that you are actually paying attention.

Looking around and observing other people's communication with one another, I found that a majority of us have completely tuned out. We are listening to conversations absent-mindedly while reading and responding to messages on our phones, making the odd grunt here and there so the other person doesn't stop talking. How sad! Our friends may not mind because let's face it, they do it too and we're mostly used to it. But, how about the adults and parents who are not used to this speedy mode of communication and multi-tasking, wondering what the heck their kids are talking about?

So, in honor of the upcoming mothers' day, I have this to say. First, I'd like to express that this part is borne out of a phone conversation by a female on the bus with someone at the other end of the line whom she called "mum." Here's the deal, young lady! She is "mum," not your college room mate or buddy or best female friend (though she would like to hold the bff title.) Firing away at her at 100wpm is a bit much. Slow down, for her sake.

Remember those days when she was the only one you talked to in a voice and language that only she, and God understood? Yes, even your big brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and older cousins didn't know what the heck you were yapping about? Mhm, "mum" listened for every alien syllable that came out of your mouth, and she understood it all. Then you, angelic creature went off to school and started making friends. Your language went from alien to human and everyone was happy. "Mum" didn't have to work so hard or listen so intently to hear and understand you. It became easier.

So, what happened along the way? You, dearest child went to high school in an age of numerous technological devices and at a time when written words no longer require vowels to make sense to anyone in your generation. As "mum" is trying to wrap her head around that and learn your new ways of communication, you go off to college and your language and mode of delivery becomes even more alien to her.

Do me a favor, bearing in mind that "mum" is not bff though you make her believe she is, fine tune your language and enunciate properly so she can understand you the first time you speak. Letting the words roll off your tongue that even I, standing next to you did not immediately understand, brings frustration and exasperation. I can imagine she felt the same way you did when she had to make you repeat where you were and where your stop was going to be. Try to make it easier on her ok, after all she took the time to hang out with you today in spite of the traffic.

And "mum", this one's for you: "bff" you are not no matter what she says because part of being the owner of that title is being up to speed with language and delivery. Doubt me? Watch old episodes of Gilmore Girls. It didn't work out for Lorelai either. I would say be patient and listen, pick out the keywords from the never-ending clutter of words and you'll have it. For instance, "...across the bridge from tribune tower...stopping at chicago--which way to walk..." This was in answer to the question asked and I agree with you that the delivery made it sound almost extra-terrestrial. When you've selected the keywords, run them by her to clarify and everyone will be happy.

To all you "MUMS" out there, diligently doing a great job with patience and love, God bless you all and early Happy Mothers' Day to you!