Kids & The Art of Interruption

Children are born with a detection system that allows them to determine the most opportune time to interrupt their parents.  They have an innate ability to sense when you are unable to correct their behavior, which to a child shows parental weakness.  Mix this with the fact that they have no understanding of privacy, it could be disastrous for us adults.

Case in point:  ANYTIME I decide to take a shower so I can feel like a person again.  I don’t take long showers, on average about 10 minutes.  However, that apparently comes out to 5 days in kid time.  In this time frame they become hungry to the point of starvation, incapable of getting along with their sibling, need to use the bathroom, have spilled or broken something, and on the verge of combustion from extreme boredom. 

Getting ready for the shower:  Turn on the water, get undressed.  Someone needs me for some random task…downstairs.  I wrap a towel around me and take care of it.

Minutes 1 & 2:  Quiet.  The storm is coming

Minute 3:  “Mom, you have been in there FOREVER!” says my 4 year old as she pulls back the shower curtain.  Damn, that’s cold (I like super hot showers so that blast of air is like walking into a restaurant grade freezer). I tell her that I will be finished in a minute and go back to shaving my legs which now have goose-bumps – fabulous. 

Minute 4:  “Mom, Gabby is washing the floor.”, my 5 year old, the mother hen, tells me.  We have a Swiffer wet jet for quick in-between cleanings and they love to help me.  “She just keeps spraying the floor in the same spot over and over again!” she pleads.  I respond, “Tell her to stop and just leave it there, we can clean it up once I am finished”.

Minute 5:  The hen is back “Mom, I took care of it”.  “Thanks sweetie”.  I think twice.  “How did you ‘take care of it’?” I ask with a hint of worry in my voice.  “I took the pillows off the couch and put it around the spot so no one would step on it”.  Very creative. 

Minute 6:  “Mom, can you open this for us?  We are hungry” they say.  I pull back the curtain and they have snack packs of cookies.  “What happened to the apples I cut up for you?”.  “Oh” (oh boy) “they had a brown spot on it so we threw them away.”  I sigh, but whatever, I’m almost done.  Ever try to open a plastic bag with wet hands?  That’s sheer luck.

Minute 7:  They are eating, it’s quiet.

Minute 8:  “Mom, can you open this for us?”, are you serious?  “No, I’m taking a shower and I need a few minutes.  You can wait.” 

Minutes 9 & 10:  I hear them in the other room, playing.  Fighting at times but they are working their way through it.  I relax and let the water just run. 

Other times I’ve been caught off guard by my little interruption ninjas is when I work from home.  I am typically in the office, but there are times when I’m home with them due to teacher conferences and things like that.  Due to the nature of my job, I can be on the phone for hours at a time with conference calls and follow ups.  I use the mute button as if my career depended on it. 

I’m not sure if you are aware of this but once you are no longer on mute, a signal is sent to children to let them know the line is “live” and it is at that point they decide they need your attention at that exact moment in time.  This is also the time parents learn to use body language and looks to persuade them to remain as quiet as possible.  I know I must look like an idiot with my face giving “the glare”, as I make gestures which look like I’m playing angry sherades, while at the same time trying to remain as professional as possible on the phone.  And when I finally hit the mute button again I read them the mom’s version of the Riot Act as my OCD is triggered and I have the nagging need to double and triple checking that I am in fact on mute. 

One thing my children have taught me from all this is to laugh in these moments.  I love the fact that they want my attention. I’ve also learned to make it a game with my interruption ninjas to see if I can guess what it is that they are going to say before it leaves their mouths, which is always funny. 

Bottom line is that children are better at interrupting than adults are at diverting them.  You may as well just enjoy it.