The other day our seven-year-old, Annie, was trying to get my attention.
"Hi Babe. I hear you. I'll be there in just a minute!"
"Mom, you've been saying 'just a minute' for like, FIFTY MINUTES, Mom!" (Annie likes to use my name, "Mom," as many times as possible in a sentence. Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom Mom. MOM! Some day I'm going to buy a counter and keep track of how many times she says "Mom" in one day!)
I finally stopped what I was doing, and emphatically denied it. "It has NOT been that long!" Then I looked at the clock. No, but it had been fifteen. Or had it been longer? I didn't really know, exactly.
I felt bad.
Not because I think kids should be able to dictate my life and make me drop everything at their whim and fancy. No, they can learn to interrupt properly and to wait.
Eventually I do have to pay attention. Full attention. I mean, unplug the phone kind of attention. I can either give it to her, or she can continue demanding it, usually in a very annoying and ever-increasing-volume way. I looked at the clock. Fifteen minutes until Libby-10 needs to go to soccer. Eeek.
With everything within me, I forced myself to face away from the clock as I sat down with her at the kitchen table, poured us both some milk, and we ate some Oreos together. She told me about her day, used the word "Mom" about fifty more times, and I tried to listen as though I had nothing else in the world to do.
Then she was off. Playing. By herself. Happily.
The thing I'd been putting off - paying attention to her - took all of five minutes.
Last night I noticed that Allie-15 was getting a little snippety, and I was getting a little snippety back. It wasn't anything specific, just this underlying "we are not getting along" type of feeling.
After everyone was in bed, Allie was still up (trying on clothes for the next day). I was thinking it was time to collect her phone for the evening (the next thing on my "to do" list, and something she is not EVER very excited about), so I went in to her room. I decided to wait on the "phone" conversation, and instead I just went in and sat on her bed to help her sort through the options.
"How was your day?" I started off as I looked through her pile of t-shirts.
"Oh, it was okay," she replied. Her attention was on the mirror. Was she going to get the hair straightener out now, too? Oh boy. This could take a while.
I could hear the Republican National Convention going on in the living room, and I wanted to hear the speeches, but I continued to act Like I Had All the Time in the World.
Several outfits later, we'd discussed clothes, volleyball (all the drama of "who gets to play"), her best friend, her favorite class (Latin!), and the boy who doesn't "get it" that she doesn't want to go out with him (she said, "No thanks" to my offer to call him myself. Go figure.).
All in fifteen minutes. Maybe less.
The tension in the air was decidedly gone. She hugged me goodnight (but still followed me in to watch the Convention). When it was time to go to bed, she voluntarily plugged the phone in in my room.
Hmm, maybe this acting thing has potential....