In life, there are a few situations where grey areas just don’t cut it. For me, two things jump to mind immediately: Listening and bartending. We’ll start with listening, an ever-evolving challenge for most people, including this gal. I think it’s obvious why there is no grey area for me with regard to bartending. I want what I want and I want it ten minutes ago. I don’t have six hours to kill anymore, like I did in college. Has anyone noticed how short softball practices are getting these days?
Here’s an example of how I feel about listening. If your face is buried in your iPhone while a fresh face with sound coming out of it is pointed at you, you aren’t listening. There is no “kinda” paying attention. I know because I try it all the time and the little buggers are now old enough to spot an epic fail from five syllables away:
One of them: Blah, blah, blah, blah….
Me: Wow. Really. Then what?
One of them: Mom, I said thanks for buying Eggos.
Me: Really? Wow. Then what?
One of them: MOM!
Me: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and salad! 6:30!
It’s not just kids who deserve the undivided attention of the person they are speaking to. Spouses need auditory love, too. If you have one eye on the phone (remember when phones were for ears?), one on the TV, and one on the pasta pot, you aren’t really listening to your man tell you about this week’s epic fantasy football trade. Plus, you have three eyeballs.
With children, you listen for obvious reasons: an innocent child wants to share, which they have the right to do without sharing you with something else. And when the recounting of last night’s incomprehensible dream is going on for five, then ten minutes, with no end in sight, they still need you to listen. Why? I have no idea and I’m really terrible at it. Sometimes I just want to start crying, loudly, like I did when I was six to avoid shit I didn’t like.
Now, listening to husbands is a little different. With husbands, listening is active, as in actively squirreling away valuable information to be used later, during key negotiations:
“C’mon, baby, please….I heard every word you said about your trade earlier….Ochocinco for Palamalau…Are you sure you’re too tired?”
It works both ways. Kids and husbands need to listen also. They need to plug into what we moms are saying. Case in point: the other day, my 12-year old daughter caught up to me while I was reading a book, my most favorite time to listen to stuff:
Landry: Mom! (While most children put a question mark at the end of that word, she does not; it’s an abrupt, roll-call-like exclamatory statement that leaves no room for anything but the following loving response:
L: Can I get my own roll of pre-wrap for softball this year?
L: Cuz….you got the girls one for basketball and I’d like one for softball.
Me: Yep. Sounds good.
L: So, I can get my own roll?
Me: Simon says, YES! Are we good now?
It was like she just couldn’t stop unpacking that hobo-pouch-on-a-stick full of logic she had prepared in case I denied her request; but I didn’t. I agreed, quickly and easily. Was she listening? It was like conversing with one of those pre-recorded voice-mail-tree instruction ladies who tell you to say or spell your name:
It: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you. Please repeat that.
It: Okay, Lima. Is that correct?
It: I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Could you repeat it?