I've heard it said that to be a good conversationalist you should listen 80 percent of the time and only talk 20 percent of the time. If that is true then I am the best conversationalist in the whole world courtesy of my children. The only time one of those boys isn't talking is when they're sick. I mean really sick.
I get about one word in for every 30 spoken by a little shaver. I thought I had a "strong, silent type" in my fourth-born, Leif, but it turned out he was just saving up his thoughts for the first four years of his life in order to speak them all -- continuously -- for the rest of his life.
Our little bean, Rowan, has trouble saying his "s" sound at the beginning of words, so he substitutes for it with "h" sounds. Thus "The Muppet Show" becomes "The Muppet Ho." And "soup" becomes "houp." (It's always accompanied by an enthusiastic thumbs-up. The boy loves houp!) This is a device, I think, he uses to make me pay close attention to him while he speaks. The littlest boy of five boys has to use whatever tools he can to be heard.
Also devised to keep folks on their toes is the boys' favorite mode of communication; rapid-fire simultaneous shout-speaking. This consists of all of the boys talking and gesticulating at the same time and it often includes sound effects and hand motions or battle reenactments. It wouldn't be such a problem except that they all expect you to respond intelligently to what they just said.
For instance, while I was running on the treadmill at a respectable pace for a woman with five sons, I had to answer the following questions: "Mom! What is the Latin equivalent of the Greek 'tropos'?"; "Momma? How do I spell 'caterwaul'?"; "What's for dinner, Mom?" and "Would you please tell Liam to stop looking at me in that tone of voice? He keeps poking my ego." Have you ever tried to maintain a respectable pace -- let alone remain upright on a treadmill -- while enduring that? My powers of concentration got a great workout that day, too.