My friend was out of town last week, and her husband needed (wanted) help with their two girls while she was gone. My friend’s sister-in-law offered and arranged a play-date for one of the girls on Saturday, while my friend was still out of town. Well, at the end of this month, my friend is going out of town again. And again, her husband needs (wants) help with the girls during her absence.
Last night, my friend told me that she talked to her sister-in-law to see if she would be willing to do another play-date the Saturday my friend is out of town. Her response? “We’ll see.” When my friend told me her response, she added “We know ‘we’ll see’ means ‘no’, so we are looking into other options.”
This morning, my oldest wanted to know if he could play his video games on Wednesday. Last night, I told him he lost the video game playing privilege during the week for various reasons. However, since Wednesday nights are typically “special nights” at home, he was hoping video games could be added to the list of special things. In response to my son’s question, and with absolutely no intention of letting him play his video games Wednesday night I said, “Maybe.”
When I was growing up and my Mom was responding to my questions, “maybe” always meant no, and “we’ll see” always meant we’ll see, leading to a probable no. It was like shaking the Magic 8 Ball and getting the response, “Outlook not so good.” Though the chance of the desired result may still have been slim, I was happier when my Mom answered my questions with a “we’ll see”. When “we’ll see” was said, I knew I still had a chance. Whereas if “maybe” was uttered, I knew all hope was lost. (And, I learned that if I continued to ask her the same question after a “maybe” response, prior “we’ll see” responses would immediately change to “no”.)
Even though the words are switched, my friend knows the routine, too. Sometimes, rather than saying “no” (or even “yes”) and creating a stink (or temper tantrum, as it were with my son), we avoid confrontations by uttering a vague yet specific response. The responses are vague, because no commitment is being made. However, the responses are specific, because everyone knows that – rarely – does anything good come from a maybe or a we’ll see. Wouldn’t you agree?