Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SH!!! Mom's on the PHONE!

Why is it that by the time I figure out the rules of parenting,
it's too late to apply them?

Too late schmart,
I will share my late-bloomed wisdom with you.

Arencha' lucky?

For years I maintained the rule,
"You come when I call.
I will only call once."

Sometimes, my kids were hard of hearing,
other times they were hard of obeying.
It took diligence and discipline to train them to come when I called



The rule saves yelling.
It saves getting annoyed.
It saves time.
It teaches prompt and pleasant obedience.
(It teaches Mommy to be pleasant, too.)

If you can train a dog to heal,
shouldn't you be able to train a child to come?

The other day I was on the phone.

It was an important call.
It was another adult with a writing opportunity.
It was the kind of call that mandates silence in the background.

The kind where you want the kids on another planet.

It never happens that way, does it?

The importance of the call only escalates the noise level 
and the proximity of the kerfuffle to your phone.

They're just suddenly there and loud
and there in your face
and there under your face
and there breathing unbrushed-teeth breath in your face.

Then, they become blind.

They can't see your pointing fingers,
your eyes boring holes in their scalps,
your eyebrows creating one angry-unibrow,
your lips over-exaggerating threats you'll never carry out.

They know they have you captive.
You have to be nice,
you're talking to another grown-up.

So, my inspired genius occurred while I was hearing
thumping and wacking up and down the hallway outside my bedroom.
I know the sound of sibling smacking sibling,
I know the sound of fake cries to get the sibling in trouble,
I know the sounds of hushed, forced apologies,
as the tale-bearing, heel-thumping, self-righteous indignation
pounds closer and closer to my door.
I know the sounds of whispered yells,
"SH!  Mom's on the PHONE!"
projected at greater decibals than the original infraction.
This is when I realized my utter failure.
 I instructed and disciplined,
training them to come when I called the first time.

What I should have done,
is picked up the phone instead of calling them,
holding it in my never-manicured hand,
knowing they would come running
and breathe their unbrushed-teeth breath in my face.

Next, I should have whistled
and made them stand at attention like those Von Trapp kids.

only then
should I have made my phone call.

Oh,  I'm too late schmart.


  1. Genius!! A phone call is guaranteed to get all my children clinging to my legs, screaming for some absolutely necessary trivia. So, when I want them, pick up the phone. When I don't want them, call them. Genius.

  2. MM! You are brilliant.

    I want to come sit at your feet and learn.

  3. Yep, it's universal. And with my youngest at almost 12 I am fascinated that it still works. My rare phone calls almost always end up with everyone busily doing stuff in very close proximity to the phone!
    wish I had worked it out sooner as well :-)

  4. Wow - you should write a book!! That's the best parenting tip I've heard in a long time! ;)

  5. :) Loved the blog!

    So please tell, how did you teach them to come on the first call? =/ We're having terrible frustration in this area these days with a certain FOUR year old. I'd like to spank her every time I don't get a response but... not sure I reallllly want to EVERRRRYYYY time. =/

  6. Tandis, a few days slow, but still wanted to answer. I just didn't give in. Even if I just stood there for a few minutes, I stood and waited. If I had to call a second time, or had to go get them, it would mean discipline and/or instruction. There are battles you choose to always win, this was one of them for me.

    As with anything, it takes a few days of training and the rest of your life in follow-through and it can come true.

    My older kids were shocked the other day when the youngest child in the family hollered back to me, "I'm busy." I realized I had been lax, went back over the reason for Mommy's rule and we've had cheerful compliance ever since.

    I realized another blessing of the rule, it is a subtle, quiet way of showing headship - Mommy is the boss.


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