No one listens to me anymore.
I don't know when it happened, exactly, but somewhere along the line I became like an annoying fly, buzzing away in the background. My children hear me (I think) but they don't have a clue what I am talking about.
For example, if I have to use the restroom or take a shower, I will announce it to the masses. (I even do this with adults now...everybody knows when I have to go potty.) "I'm going to the bathroom!" I will proclaim, loudly enough to be heard over the TV/Video Game/screaming toddlers. The children will nod. Sometimes, they will even look up and connect eyes with me, as if to assure me that they have it covered. "You can go to the bathroom," they seem to say, "and we, as a collective group of well-behaved children, will be just fine." I will leave the room confident they are completely aware of the situation and that there is at least a chance that peace will continue for the next five minutes.
Apparently, I am a very gullible woman.
By the time I make it to the bathroom and lock the door, the Mama radar will have gone of in someone's head. It will occur to them that I am no longer in the room, and they will begin to panic. WHERE DID SHE GO? "I saw her move her mouth" they will think, "and some kind of noise came out of it, and then all of the sudden she was GONE!" Within seconds, they will have worked themselves into a frenzy that, in my house, can only result in two actions. The first possibility is that they will run screaming through the house, frantically calling my name and foaming at the mouth because, athough I am in the bathroom screaming my head off that I am...well, in the bathroom, they can't hear me because they are running screaming through the house. They will check every room in the house except my bathroom, and will conclude that I have disappeared off the face of the earth. Chaos will ensue. The second option is that they will note that I am not in the vicinity, and they will decide that this is a sign from above that they can begin trying to kill each other, because who can know how long this lack of maternal influence will last? They would be fools not to take advantage of the lack of supervision. Again, chaos will ensue.
When I emerge from the bathroom a mere few minutes later but with several more gray hairs, they will look at me in accusation. "Where were you?" They will demand, having seen me walk out of the bathroom. "Siberia" I will tell them. They will blink at me in bafflement.
Another example that proves my point is the "What are we having for dinner?" saga that is repeated daily in my house, over and over again. No matter how many times I tell them exactly what we are having, they will ask me again a million times until the food is actually in front of them, whereupon they will oftentimes frown at their plates and ask, "Do I have to eat this? You know that I don't like spaghetti." I will then tell them what I tell someone in my household EVERY SINGLE NIGHT "I am not a short-order cook. Sometimes I will make things that you don't like, but you are going to have to eat them anyway or be hungry. Hopefully tomorrow night there will be something that you like better." And EVERY SINGLE NIGHT I will be met with horrified eyes that cannot believe that I seriously will not run over and whip them up some chicken nuggets because clearly to not do so is tanamount to child abuse. "Imagine, expecting me to eat spaghetti!" they seem to think. "I wish she had stayed in Siberia!"
I have been wondering for quite some time now how it has come to this point. I have tried to think of something that I had said or done that had made my children tune me out so completely, and I was coming up empty until this weekend. On Sunday night, while visiting my brother, I had a major revelation. We were about to leave, and Owen had decided that he was starving to death and could not possibly stand to wait the twenty minutes that it would take us to get home to eat something, so he asked his cousin Faith (also four years old) for some yogurt. She happily ran into the kitchen and got him one (without asking her parents) and Owen came running over to me asking me to open it. I knew that my nieces eat the yogurt for breakfast, so I told Owen no, and that we would get something as soon as we got home. He looked at me, flabergasted that I would not allow him to eat when he was clearly wasting away before my eyes. "Yogert!" I said firmly, "Put the Owen back in the refrigerator now and lets go home!"
And that's when it hit me. After sixteen years of parenting, I have lost so many brain cells that I no longer make any sense. No wonder they don't listen to me. Would you pay attention to a woman that called you Yogurt? I have to say that I'm not sure that I would.
There is a certain freedom that comes with this knowledge, however. If they are not listening to me, then I can say pretty much anything that I want and it will be okay. I can tell the kids that I am making lizard brains for dinner and they will not even notice. Then, when I present them with spaghetti, I can say "Hey, at least it's not lizard brains!" and they will be too confused to argue. Why did I not think of this before?
Okay. Now that I have that all worked out, I've got to go pay a visit to Siberia. I hope the house is still standing when I get back.
So I’m sitting here on my couch. I’ve been to Houston and back in the last twenty-four hours and I’m headed to College Station tomorrow afternoon. But Gull...
6 hours ago