According to the Divine Miss O....
So, here I am stuck writing an essay when I could be out doing fun summer stuff, because Mom and Dad don’t like that I say, “I don’t know” a lot of the time when they ask me questions… usually when I’m in trouble. They want to know what the merit is (if any) of the phrase “I don’t know” as it applies to my life right now.
Why do I say, “I don’t know?”
I say, "I don’t know" because I don’t know a lot of things. I really don’t know why I behave in certain ways at times (like when something goes wrong, or I just didn’t use my head), or why I have a certain tone in my voice. Sometimes I say, "I don’t know" because I don’t want to tell anyone what is going on in my head, or what I am feeling, or I think that what is going on in my head will really tick off my parents… I’m afraid to make a bad situation worse. Sometimes I say, "I don’t know" when I just want to be left alone. It never works, and that is what got me writing this essay in the first place.
When I don’t know why I behave a certain way it is usually because I don't think about all of the different outcomes, consequences, and how my actions might affect others. So, when something does go wrong, like something breaks or I get hurt, I don’t think that it’s my fault. Then, when anyone points out that I might be responsible, I get defensive, take a tone (without thinking about it) and say, “I don’t know” why I did what I did, and it turns into a fight (Uggghh).
When I don't know why I have a certain tone in my voice it is usually because I am already annoyed or irritated about something before being questioned and I, without realizing it, take it out on whoever I am speaking to. To my ears it doesn’t sound like I have a bad tone to my voice, and I end up confused about why anyone thinks I do. I will have to work on that.
Sometimes, when my parents ask me what I am thinking I say, "I don’t know" because I am so angry in the moment that I take my anger out on them in my thoughts, and I immediately feel guilty, and don’t want to tell them, so I either say, "nothing" or "I don’t know" so I don’t get into more trouble (I think telling them what I am thinking will only make the situation worse).
Occasionally I say, "I don’t know" when I want to know what something means, and I just assume that people will understand this, but they don’t (not usually). So, instead of saying "I don’t know" I can say, "No, I don't know what that means" or "What does that mean?" I’m starting to get that people (especially Mom and Dad) can’t read my mind, and I have to explain myself better if I want people to understand me.
Looking at it now, I over-say, “I don’t know…” probably because it is an easy answer, and because it used to get me out of trouble. “I don’t know,” followed by an apology and a promise to do better, became my habit. It became my habit because it worked when I was little, and I just assumed that it would continue to work now. Boy was I wrong! I guess I started to take advantage of it, and it never occurred to me to stop. Now, before I answer a question with, "I don’t know" I will stop and ask myself if there are any better answers. If there are not, I will instead ask questions to help me better understand what the problem is.
Come to think about it, I think I say, “I don’t know” because I'm lazy. I just don’t want to take the time to think of a truthful answer that will satisfy my parents ('waste' time) because I'm tired, or grumpy, and I wind up in more trouble, or using up a lot more time (writing essays).
I also use, “I don’t know” to get myself out of talking about what I’m thinking and feeling (lying without thinking). That's my biggest problem. I don’t think about how what I say or do will affect other people around me, or my relationships; and when I don’t take the time to think about how I’m affecting others, it generally doesn't affect them well (another thing to work on).
I suddenly understand that there really is no merit to “I don’t know” unless the answer is a fact… like when someone asks me where the cat is, or why the internet stopped working (dang WIFI).
So, to answer the main point and the reason I’m doing this essay, there is very little value in the phrase, “I don’t know” because it usually doesn’t give a full, or acceptable answer to the questions my parents ask me, and because of this it doesn’t change anything (what I am thinking, feeling, etc.). The phrase, “I don’t know” doesn’t encourage good communication or relationships.
Most importantly, in my life the phrase “I don’t know” rarely has any merit because I generally know the answer to what is being asked.
While it worked when I was little to adopt it as my "amazing get out of trouble strategy," now that I'm older it doesn’t work anymore, because people (especially my parents) actually expect me to know my reasons for acting in certain ways, to think about the potential consequences of my actions, and to be able to reflect on why I feel the way I do. I guess it’s just part of growing up and maturity, and even though I don’t always like it, I have to "act my age" (it was easier to be ‘little’).
So, to show that I am able to handle the responsibilities and freedom I want in my life (I really do want my parents and other people to trust me, and I want good relationships) I am going to expand my vocabulary and use phrases other than "I don’t know" or "I'm not sure" so I can express myself accurately, build trust in my relationships, and communicate what really does matter to me to other people (and not have to write another essay.) ;)
P.S. Thank you Mum (and Dad) for making me write this essay, and for writing it as well, so I didn’t feel singled out. I learned a lot about myself, and I kind of learned about the importance of proper answers… even when I don’t like the questions. I also learned how to write a one-thousand-word essay, which should help me in Grade eight, and high school. Thank you for all of the encouragement and critiquing (I’m sorry that I did not show that I was grateful at times). Your support helped a lot with completing this essay. I promise to do better, and not say, " I don’t know " unless the situation calls for it.
Didn't I tell you that The Divine Miss O is FUNNY, brash, child-like but not childish, confident, sassy (in a good way), sweet, bold, SMART, wise, curious, dependable, adventurous, cautious, loquacious, irrepressible, responsible, irreverent, pithy, tender, creative, STRONG, intrepid, faith-FULL....
...and I've never been more delighted and proud of her than I am today! She worked harder on this essay than she has ever worked on anything, and she did it willingly, and without complaint.
I'll let you know how the essay sharing goes! I'm certain that we'll all learn A LOT!