My husband has a pet peeve concerning me, and it is this: When we are having a conversation, I will turn away from him to address someone/thing else.
I do it when I’m talking on the phone to him, when I’m talking on the phone with another person and tell him a side thought, when he’s relaying the day he had at work, and when we are driving in the car.
But do you know the one time I DO NOT interrupt our tête à tête? When the children are not around to interrupt us.
If you are a parent with one child or less, you may be getting your trousers in a twist reading about my rudeness. I can hear your advice from way over here: “Just teach your kids to wait. It’s disrespectful.”
Believe me, O Clueless One, I do. And; much like my reminders to not talk with food currently chewing, not scratch their man parts so much, not hit their brothers, not interrupt me mid-lecture, and not pretty much everything that might burn the house down; they kind-of still do what they want.
When I’m feeling patient, I gently remind the boys to wait their turn (which, by the way, involves turning my attention away from my husband to do). When I’m feeling the way I almost always do, I tend to address their issue as quickly as possible because it gets them away from me. I think of it as ‘turning them off,’ like the Off button on an alarm.
Yes, they need to respect our conversation. Yes, they can wait. The problem is that children who are told to wait tend to bob right next to your elbow until you are finally done talking, and not all of the talking I do with my husband is child-appropriate.
Other moms understand -you know, the ones with two or more children (or perhaps one who is a lot more talkative than other kids). If I were to record whenever I call my sister, for example, the transcript would go as follows:
Me: Hey, so I saw you called earli- 12! Put the bat down! We don’t have bats in the car! Sorry, Sis… so you called?
Her (to a background of toddler humming): Yeah, I was just on the way to the doctor and wanted to check in. -What do you want, 2? More ‘cwackers?’ Can you say, ‘please?’
Her #2: Pweez!
Her: Okay, now we’re going to share with brother. That’s good…
Me: Yeah, we’re okay. We’re just on our way to Karate.
My #4: I’m hungry!
Me: 4, you ate before we left!
My #4: Is it dinner time yet?
Her: Dinner’s a good idea, 4! –No, 2, we’re not going to The Hot Dog Store [Costco]. We’re going to Grammy’s!
My #10, to My #7: Would you rather drink from a toilet, or swallow your farts?
Me: Hey! No potty talk!
…..And so forth.
My sister describes this Mom-addresses-child’s-interruption phenomenon as Mom Tourette’s. Yep, it’s not accurate. At the time she thought of it, though, I hadn’t been able to get a complete sentence out of her the whole conversation. I’m sure, given twenty years to re-grow our Mom Brains, we’ll have a better term for it.
For now, it’s –didn’t I tell you all to stay in bed?! Don’t make me tell you again!
Sorry. Now, where were we?