Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Distraction Action

Baby Cael feeling feisty at a restaurant.
When the boys were small, I had mastered the art of distraction.  It was a necessity, really, because with two very wily, noisy boys, it was physically impossible to dole out timeouts for every infraction.  Instead, when voices got too noisy at a restaurant, I would swoop in with my magic carpet bag of crayons, matchbox cars and floor lamps to distract them from whatever mischief they were about to attempt. 

I was good, too; I will admit that.  Distraction is a tool every mother should have (and wield) in her tool belt, right along with the ability to draw multiple car length locomotives in basic primary crayon, and a knack for turning any casserole into kid-worthy fare with little more than a pack of Saltine crackers.

Mercifully, having four and six year-olds means that I don't have to resort to distraction quite as often.  Desperate pleas for silence happen daily, but they understand reason a bit better, and have learned the signs that I'm about to implode with frustration.  And in a grand "aha moment", I realized last week that those are the moments when my kids turn the tables to distract me.

"Graham, I need you to clean up your crayons and paper from the table so that I can make lunch.  Graham?  Graham, I mean it.  If you want to eat lunch today, I need you to clean up.  Grammy?  Come on, Graham!"

"Tadpoles have tails and grow into frogs."

"Yes, I know.  But are you not listening?  I need you to pick up now." 

"And butterflies start out as caterpitters."

"Your lunch won't start out at all unless you collect your things and put them away."


I won that round, but only because Graham doesn't have the years of experience I do and isn't stubborn enough to see it through to the end.  But Cael?  Cael is a worthy opponent.

Leaving a restaurant last week, (if all of these stories take place at restaurants, why do I keep going out?) he took off running for the van across the parking lot without checking for cars crossing his path.  When I'd finally caught up to him, I was buzzing with anxiety and ready for the lecture I'd mentally composed.

"Cael, you CANNOT run off like that in a parking lot.  What if a car had whipped around the corner and you didn't see it?  Do you know what would happen if you got hit by a car?"

"I'd get dead."

"Probably, or very badly hurt.  I don't want to hold your hand just to keep you from having fun-- I do it to keep you safe.  And the very first second you hear me say 'stop', you need to freeze and come right over to me.  Do NOT keep going.  My job is to keep you safe, and your job is to trust me and follow directions.  Do you understand?"

"I hate the opera, Mom."

"Didn't you hear me say-- wait, what?  You hate the opera?  When have you even seen an opera?" 

Photo credit here.
"I don't like all the singing.  It's too much singing.  And on tv yesterday they were singing in a different language and I couldn't even understand it."

"Well, if the opera is good, you should be able to figure out what is happening by watching the people on stage.  And I think the programs tell you a bit more about what's going on, too."

"But they look weird and movies are cooler."

"Most kids probably feel that way, but when you're older if you still really like music, you'll have to watch a real opera and you might change your mind."

"Okay, Mom.  Can I have a piece of my Easter candy?"

"Sure, dude."

Wow, well played.  Both of my boys have managed to use distraction to get out of trouble or to divert my attention long enough to cause some.  Sounds like I need to sharpen my skills to distract others.

"So, Mary, have you guys picked a name for the baby yet?"

"Did you know that strawberries aren't really berries but bananas are?!"

Yep, that'll do it.

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.