When Half Means Whole

I had another post ready to share with you today but I’m going to save it for a future date. When things happen and the little lesson strikes you in the moment it is worth writing down.

While making lunch for Owen today, we had a misunderstanding. At this tender age of 4 it can happen pretty regularly. They are full on conversationalists, say immediately what they think and there is not usually a lot of pause to consider if the message was clear on either end.

During the school year I purposefully only send a half sandwich in their lunch box to cut down on carb consumption and challenge myself to fill their bellies with other choices that are of nutritional value. But I have to say it’s summer and that rule has been a little lax around here. Knowing that Owen had just had a snack I thought maybe just half a sandwich with fruit would work for him, but I know it’s good to check and not just change things up on preschoolers.

“Owen, do you half a sandwich or a whole sandwich?”


Oh good, I thought, he agreed.

Said sandwich arrives at the table and I go back to the counter to finish making my everything bagel, toasted, with cream cheese, adding a layer of pesto and finishing with sliced Roma tomatoes. (I love this delicious lunch when I go to Java Mama to get some work done and have learned how to artfully recreate it at home. It’s really good. You should try it!) about to take my first bite and Owen shows up at my side at the counter. He’s looking for something and I ask him what he needs.

“My other sandwich.”

“I asked you if you wanted half a sandwich or a whole sandwich.”

“Cut in half. I want both of them. Where’s the other one? Did you eat it?”

I can’t even keep up answering him as I’m trying to figure out how this miscommunication happened. When he heard me say “half” in his mind he was thinking ‘cut in half’.

I put my bagel down to fix him the missing half to his sandwich. As much as baby sign language has helped us avoid communication breakdowns, there are still times when we have communication breakdowns.

Published on: August 02, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Joann Woolley

Joann Woolley is a Master Level Instructor in the Signing Time Academy. ASL is her first language (her mother is deaf) and her first sign was MILK. Both her fluency in ASL and understanding of ASL culture provide an insight to the language that opens the eyes of her students.

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