The Constant Interlocutor

“What a funny little girl,” they think to themselves as she gesticulates with a quirky greeting.

Little do they know they are down for the count. A conversation with Jordan is untamed, frenetic, and customarily one-sided. She begins with random observations dissected from a linear thought but delivered in fragments.

“He shoved the whole peanut butter cup in his mouth.”

This is a standard opening. No, “hello, I’m Jordan.” That’s far too pedantic. The prey has to laugh at the absurdity of the remark. Fools! This is where she’ll jam your brain.

“Yeah. But one day I’m going to get him back for that.” Without pause – “Larry’s mother is going to take me to a movie today.”

If Jeanette or I are near to the prey, we generally intervene at this point. It’s the humane thing to do.

“I’m Larry. Jordan, don’t you mean your grandma?”

Dismissively, “Yeah.” Now the pitch of her voice rises to a coy soprano. “And we’re going to see chihuahuas and the one chihuahua jumped up and ran around a hundred times!”

Easy, friend. You just rocked back on your heels. She’s not done yet.

“And I like to drink soda at the movies and eat candy. But sometimes I eat too much candy. My mom doesn’t like that. And it’s not good for me because of the cancer that’s in my head.”

The stranger-prey does a double take. Did she say what I thought she said? Their faces blanch. They chuckle nervously and fumble for a response. If Jeanette or I feel up to it, we explain. If Luc is around, he scolds Jordan for sharing too much. This is usually followed by Jordan telling her brother to butt out. Sometimes she just puts a hand in front of his face.

Shrugging her shoulders and peering over her stylishly purple glasses, she carries on with the new friend assuming he or she empathizes with her every word. Though her sentences are punctuated with musical inflections and animated gestures, she confides with people as though the two of them were old souls reflecting on the craziness of kids. There is no hesitation, no filter, no masquerade. She says what she thinks and feels.

Sometimes, I ask her to think about her audience. I tell her that it is her decision to share what she wants about her illness, but I also ask her to think about how others might feel learning about her cancer. I think this is very hard for her to do. She doesn’t project herself out into others’ heads very well. She’s so matter-of-fact about her fight against cancer, that she assumes everyone else will be, too. It isn’t such a scary thing to her. Part of that is our fault. We’ve never shielded her from anything on her journey. We didn’t want her to live in fear. And she doesn’t. Perhaps this is why her skills as a raconteur falter at times. She doesn’t imagine that words like cancer might stimulate a sharp emotional response from her audience. To her, it is the same as telling someone you brushed your teeth this morning.

Jordan is our family’s Denis the Menace. She talks on and on when she meets new people, wearing them down with a stream of questions and scattered thoughts. Just as quickly as she engages friends, she abandons them–sometimes in a muddle of emotion. I am usually appalled by this cheeky style of hers, but I am often overwhelmed by the responses of the people she leaves in her wake. They ask me about her condition. They applaud her stamina. They gush about her maturity, her vocabulary and (occasionally) about her sartorial creativity (it isn’t often that you see a 10 year old in mix-matched Juicy Couture).