Yesterday, while I was writing my blog post on Duncan Hines, I kept having to stop because Zach is teething and he’s just wanting to be held. And, more than once or twice, I set him down and let him cry because “I’m in the middle of this sentence and if you let me finish this one sentence, then I’ll hold you, but you’re banging on the keyboard and I just. can’t. write.” Also more than once, I told him, “Zach! You can’t bite my nose! That hurts! I swear, I’m going to sell you to the zoo!”
I love Zach. I love him more than anything in the world. But sometimes, I fail to appreciate him.
It’s just like my dog, Echo. Today, I took him to the vet’s office because he has been itching like mad and pulling his hair out. I just so happened to get the dog that has seasonal allergies. Yeah, you know, I couldn’t have gotten any other dog in the world, the well-adjusted one that is happy all the time and never barks or scratches or anything else. Nope. I got the dog that falls down on the floor at your feet as you’re walking because he got tired, and now he won’t move. The dog I have decides that every place is a good place for a potty break, or that if he is in the middle of smelling something, his ears don’t work, because this dog can’t use two senses at a time (I’m not entirely sure he even has that much sense, let alone is able to use them). And yes, the allergies, the scratching, the hair falling all over the floor. And more than once I said “Echo! Stop that! You’re getting hair everywhere! Dang it, dog, I’m going to sell you to the zoo!”
See, that’s my common threat these days. You’re not doing what you’re supposed to do? Fine. I’m going to sell you to the zoo.
Now, both Zach and Echo are really good about looking at me, rolling their eyes, and continuing to do what they’re doing, because, after all, “mom is not really going to sell us to the zoo. Obviously.”
Either I need to start getting better threats that my littles will actually believe (I used to say “I will throw you out the window!” and neither of them believed that one, either), or I need to lighten up. Seriously. How many times have I said “Zach! You’re TAKING a nap. It’s nap time. Lay your tooshie down.” Unless you have hidden cameras in my house and know the answer already, well, it’s a lot.
See, I love my Zach, and my Echo, intensely. I love them both more than anything in the world. But sometimes, when things aren’t going as scheduled, or the rug has been vacuumed five times today and there’s still little puffs of hair all over the place, it’s easy to say “Oh my gosh! Will you two just stop already?!”
Last night, though, I made a decision. And it’s far from perfect, and I did even say once or twice “Echo! Shush!” or “Zach! Don’t bite my nose! It’s not cool, man, it’s not cool.” But I also took about half an hour to just lay there with Zach and cuddle last night, talking, having a staring contest, rolling the toy ambulance all around the bed and saying “Vrrroooooooooooooooommmm vroom vroooom!!!” I took time to give Echo a long bellyrub. This morning, I sat with Zach on the rug, no TVs or Computers, and just listened to him play his xylophone and told him what a wonderful musician he is.
Because really, that’s all that your kids or pets want. All they want is five minutes of your undivided attention, and then, they’ll almost always let you go back to what you were doing, whether it’s blogging, or that phone call you need to make, or it’s the million and one other things on the to-do list. They just want you. They want you to take a moment to show them that they’re more important than the telephone, or the computer, or the television, or whatever else you’re doing right. this. second.
I’m not going to say I’m perfect from here on out. I’m not going to say that I’ll never threaten to sell my kids to the zoo again (because I probably will). But I am going to tell them I love them, and take a few minutes between tasks to slow down and say “You’re awesome. You are a great kid. You’re a sweetheart, and a good musician, and you’re just talented and fun to be around. And you deserve to be told that you’re the best thing that has ever happened to me, and even if I threaten to sell you to the zoo a million times, I’ll never actually do it, partly because I couldn’t pay them enough money to take you (in Echo’s case), but mostly because I love you so much that I’d never be able to part with you.”
Your kids are saying something, whether they’re yelling, barking, whispering, tapping your leg, growling, yawning, or giggling. Do you hear what they’re saying?
My challenge to you today (and to myself), is to take some time to give someone, whether it’s a kid, a pet, a parent, a sibling, or a friend, just ten minutes of your absolutely undivided attention. Don’t take phone calls, don’t take emails, just take time and listen to them, no interruptions, and hear what they’re trying to tell you. Then, a little later, repeat that process again. Don’t let that 10 minutes just be 10 minutes. Let it be 10 minutes now, and another 10 minutes later, and another 10 minutes after that. Rinse, lather, repeat, and it’ll turn out okay.