This morning I had an early conference call, during which I was expected to actually pay attention and contribute intelligent, business-person-type thoughts. I fed the children a good breakfast, set them up with multiple activities in the backyard, and ask them to please give me privacy for one hour so I could focus.
The call…did not go as I had hoped. Here’s a play-by-play.
Minute 5: My daughter hands me a week-old piece of pasta she found under the couch, announcing, “It’s still slimy!”
Minute 7: My son shrieks that he can’t find Lego Batman (“No, Mom, not that one, the outer-space Lego Batman with the robot wings!”).
Minute 8: Both children return to the backyard. Victory.
Minute 11: My daughter comes back in weeping because my son is refusing to wear his elbow pads while he plays with his skateboard, so “He’s not being safe with his bodyyyyyyyyyy!”
Minute 17: The dog barks at absolutely nothing as though the house is under terrorist attack.
Minute 22: My daughter stomps through the room as loudly as possible, then says in her most mournful voice, “I just wish someone could read me a story.” She sighs, slumps her shoulders, and slowly trudges from the room, spirit apparently broken.
Minutes 23-30: Blissful silence; children playing nicely together, is miraculous. I make one intelligent comment on conference call. Win!
Minute 31: Detente over. My son needs apple juice. There is no apple juice in the house. I am given multiple wounded looks as though I am personally injuring him/worst mother in the world.
Minute 35: My daughter comes inside to gleefully report that “There’s dog poop in the back yard!” I decline to immediately come clean it up and am given more stink eye.
Minute 37: Now my daughter begins to scale the kitchen counter. The reasons for this are unclear. Perhaps she wants to make herself a cup of coffee? No. She wants to be at eye level so she can continue making me feel guilty for not immediately reading her a story. Sigh.
Minutes 38-44: She gets down from kitchen counter, finds a toy horse she’d previously discarded on the floor, and pretends to ride the horse off into the sunset. Six blissful minutes of quiet ensue.
Minute 45-50: My son comes and sits next to me reading the new Captain Underpants book (actual title which I am not making up: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers). He proceeds to read me the funniest passages out loud. Sample text: “Luckily, I had this glow-in-the-dark, time traveling Robo-Squid suit in my garage. I used it to go back in time and hack into the bank’s computer, which opened the Purple Potty.” GREAT.
Minute 51: My daughter mournfully announces she has lost the book she wanted me to read to her. Tragedy all around.
Minute 52: The dog barks as loudly as he can at another dog being walked past hour house. The other dog is a chihuahua; I did not feel personally threatened by its presence.
Minute 53: My daughter lays down on the floor next to me and begins to weep over how no one will read her the book. (Which she still cannot find.)
Minute 54: The person leading the conference call asks me a direct question. I manage a somewhat reasonable reply even though I was not strictly paying attention during the last few moments of the call. I congratulate myself on being awesome.
Minute 55: My daughter, apparently tired of weeping for two whole minutes, decides she wants to draw a picture. She goes over to the cupboard where we keep art supplies and pulls a box of markers from the very bottom of the cupboard. A small avalanche of art supplies falls out and onto the floor while she shrieks in dismay.
Minute 58: My son says to my daughter, “Let’s go play pirates in the backyard!” She cheerfully consents. They exit the room.
Minute 59: The call ends.
I am so polished and professional.