Sunday, October 04, 2009

Parents should really listen when they're talking to themselves

Lately it seems as if I'm talking to myself.

“Please get some socks.”

“It's time for school, please put your shoes on.”

“The bus is coming, where are your shoes?”

“Why don't you have your shoes on?”







And right at that moment my head twists around and pops off my shoulders, spewing a rush of venom and steam into the air … as my child looks at me in mouth-gaping awe.

This is better than a carnival ride, I see on her face.

She knows better than to say that out loud, however.

She's dutifully quiet. Later, I learn she was also sad I didn't give her a chance to get ready before I blew my top.

"I was getting ready mom. … I had one sock half on. …"

Maybe it's because I haven't slept through the night in six years. Maybe it's that my throat hurts and every word that escapes my lips rasps over tender flesh, reminding me with real pain of what a pain it is when no one listens.

She was getting dressed.

She was also dancing around the room, playing with the cat, chasing her little brother, poking around into bags she hadn't seen before and spilling her untouched breakfast cereal while I was trying to gather lunches, feed the cat, take laundry off the line and … well, all the other things we try to get done before the bus comes to swallow her up.

It's a race to see if we can all get out of the house at the same time.

Picture, if you will, a family of squirrels.

I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror leaning temporarily against the wall. I look tattered and frazzled.

Picture … rabid squirrel.

Maybe what irks me most is how children can go about their play with a mind much more elastic than that of an adult.

While we pride ourselves on being able to do four things at once, we rarely admit that the four things we accomplished are really only ever half done. I readily admit, I can't walk and chew gum.

Children, on the other hand, may not be listening but they take it all in.

While my daughter sings a little tune, dances around the room and plays with 10,000 tiny toys in her dollhouse I rethink speaking of adult concerns even in hushed tones. Inarguably, a few days later the questions will come forth …

"What does 'over extended' mean?"

“I thought you weren't listening …”

“I wasn't … but I still hear.”

"It means taking on more than you are capable of completing."

Write to Siobhan Connally at

1 comment:

Bill said...

Wow - this has been my life (well, our lives) lately. I always feel lame for not giving my kids a full chance, and for not always remembering that they're 3 and 5.

But then every morning it seems like the same thing happens. Again and again. I wish I could learn to relax and become more like them.