Once I wrote about eating lunch at a Subway and watching a distracted mother verbally box her child into a sad zombie.
I felt bad for that kid because his mom took away all his options; he was to sit there and be still and be quiet; all being, no doing. I didn’t think much about the mom, because that day I had time to sit and watch and put my un-distracted un-stressed self in her shoes. It’s always easier from the outside. I thought about that mom today, wondered maybe if what she was doing with her phone that day was something important. Maybe transferring enough money from one account to another, enough to pay rent that month or buy dinner. Maybe answering an e-mail about a job interview. Who knows. Maybe she was under pressure, feeling stressed, not wanting to deprive her son but feeling out of options under the circumstances. Maybe she’d had a rough morning. Been dumped; lost a job; had a relative go to meet their Maker. Who was I anyway? Some dude eating a sandwich looking down my nose at her “bad parenting.” Give me a break.
I thought of the entry because, as I sat at the dining room table in a rush to complete an important e-mail (today, for some foolish reason, I thought I could work from home in the afternoon in preparation for tomorrow’s flight; maybe I was thinking I could have a “easy” afternoon… but I was wrong), I was that mom to Keaton. She was bored, and she was bugging me. Prancing around my seat, harping into my ear, asking me to play or telling me she was bored or asking if she could do this or do that. I didn’t want to ignore her, but I just needed five minutes of concentration, just five minutes. If I got that, I could go right back to being #1 dad. No doubt about it, just five minutes. So I did the old parent-stall and hit her with the, “Just a minute, babe,” or “Hang on one second, honey; Dad has to finish this work,” or even the more sternly delivered, “Keaton; please.”
And I guess that’s gonna be universal. There are some times when we all just need those five minutes. Just that and we’ll be back in business; back to parenting and doting and playing dollhouse and reading The Hobbit. Those five minutes are how it always starts. And sometimes we do need them. Need them badly and need them urgently; to do the business of adults. Kids aren’t interested in understanding this, nor should we expect them to. To them the world is all dollhouses and doting and fifteen pages of The Hobbit. They don’t know about your job, your mortgage, your busted taillight or what your boss said at work that got under your collar. Don’t know and don’t care and shouldn’t either. It’s a fundamental misalignment of world-view, and it is what it is. I’m gonna be that mom. You’re gonna be that mom.
So, mom at Subway last May: I’m sorry for my one-sided presumptuous blog that day. I hope whatever had you busy passed and you, too, went back to being parent-of-the-year.
I know I did. Goodnight.