Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

Today after school Laura had a check up at the orthodontist's. I was a little beat by then because I hadn't slept well, and I'd already had an outing to have lunch at a new place with Normal Neighbor and one of the K(C)athies. It was such a lady lunch place. I mean, the restaurant name made a pun with the word "thyme," everyone in the joint was in tennis clothes, and they are selling earrings and purses in there. Ladyland. There were a couple of men waiting for a table, and I was like, "Dudes, so Chipotle was on fire?"

So then, at the dentist's, I show up in my wig, which they think is a rather dramatic makeover, given that they have no idea what's going on with me or why I'd be wearing a wig, so this occasioned a lot of different conversations about cancer with everyone in the place, from the doctor to the scheduler. Don't get me wrong. I love the talking. Just a talkin' all the live long day, it's what I do. Telling acquaintances that I've had breast cancer can tax my reserves, though, as it requires that I package a comfortable but informative "here's what's up with me" experience for them, giving them the details they want and reassuring them that I'm really doing well while not getting too dark. Everything, including the less pleasant aspects of treatment, is woven into a narrative of progress and the eventual restoration of health and it's all fine. I am not at all flippant about this. I mean that this conversation has a goal and if you will relax, I will get us to our destination.

Honest to Pete, while I was chatting with the hygienist, Hank went to the glass-front fridge and brought me a bottle of water. "Mama, this is for you," he said. (Days ago, he and I had had a conversation in which he asked what would happen if you drank too much water. I told him that you could hardly manage such a thing--that you should drink a lot and it will make you feel better. He had said, "Mom, you should drink a lot of water to make you feel better.")

Other wisdom from Hank that day: "Mom, God's son's name is Bob God."

After we were back in the car on the way home, the kids got into one of those periods where they both have important things that they absolutely must tell me and must get my feedback on at that exact moment without any delay. If this requires talking over each other, so be it. Half of what Laura says comes from her fantasy life, and half of what Hank says is repeated in an eerie five-second delay from what he just heard Laura say. But zomg they must both be heard right this instant! Mom, tell Hank I am talking! No Laura, I have to tell Mom a question! And it got to be too much.

"Okay," I said. "That is enough talking. Everyone stop talking. Right now." They didn't believe me. These children are African violets. Each tender, jewel-toned petal has been brought to vivid color by a rich, full spectrum of parental attention. But also by our sometimes ignoring them.

Laura said, "But Mom, I'm just going to sing a song." Don't, I said. Hank said, "Mom, I need you to spell DUNGEON." Understand that the child can't read or write, he is three. He just likes to hear me spell things. I said, "Mama can't spell right now." "But WHY?" he asked, as I pulled up to a traffic light. I thought.

"Because I'm turning left," I said. And they were silent for about two minutes, which let me listen to an old Jayhawks song and concentrate on my unprotected left turn.

Once while I was being examined by my midwife, the talk turned to audio books and whether we liked listening to books while driving. She told me that she'd been getting through Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! this way. I lifted myself up on my elbows. "No way!" I said. That has got to be the least likely audio book ever." She nodded and said, "I have to shut it off when I'm turning left." That still makes me laugh.

I think we need to see if "I'm turning left" can serve as a temporary excuse for not doing other things. Hell, even stuff you don't do in the car. I didn't read that article you emailed me because I was turning left. I didn't RSVP to her party because there was no arrow. I will not wear those Spanx because there is no turn lane.

You have Matt to blame for the length and vapidity of this post. He is watching the Celtics game and I have no choice but to bloooooogggggg. Can't watch Lost, can't watch Frontline, can't watch 9 by Design. Do other people have more than one TV?

I'll stop now.

41 comments:

Erika said...

We've already adopted "What the hecks," so now we will have "I'm turning left." We also say, "Becky would blog about this." Not really a Woomerism but still Woomer-related discursive practice, such as.

Michele said...

We do have more than one TV and I call it "God send".

Viki said...

I'll just say we have more than 3 TV's LOL.

Jenni said...

Sometimes they just talk and talk and talk. Oscar will be saying something and I'll be like, "Mmm-hmm," and he'll yell, "Talk to me, Momma, talk to me!" OMG

chnault said...

My husband's famous mode of avoidance is to tell everyone on the phone,or with whom he is emailing:
"Let's discuss this tonight"

Then, he walks the dog without his phone and comes in and goes to bed.

Next morning, the cycle begins again.

Sasstown.com

jen said...

nope. only one tv. sometimes we really need more than one and sometimes i'm proud to say that that one is rarely on. EXCEPT ... when it is on ... EVERYONE wants to watch something different.
i remember a sign in my college town. "left turn protected on green arrow only." i don't know why that always struck me as funny ... but seriously ... you would need all the concentration you could muster in order to read it all. the. time.

Amy said...

I'm like you in that I take on the responsibility of managing a social interaction/people's reactions to news I tell them. I can imagine that it's exhausting in a scenario like that!

Hilarious about the "I'm turning left"! I often tell the kids not to talk in the car, or I'll say, "You can talk if you want, but I won't be answering you for awhile." Turns out, they're just as happy to talk to themselves.

Amy said...

Oh--and "Bob God" is so, so awesome.

Maggie said...

Ok, I almost choked on the water I was drinking when you wrote about Hank's thoughts on God's son. Bob God. It makes me giggle.
I love the turning left thing. I will use that from this day forward and I promise to give you credit. Great post!!!

Suburban Correspondent said...

I swear - the kids have no idea that I am actually doing something up there in the driver's seat that might require a bit of focus and concentration. They think I'm the stewardess, for heaven's sake. Hello? I'm DRIVING.

Jane said...

That does sound a bit exhausting. But I think it's lovely that Laura is open enough and confident enough to share her fantasy life with you so freely.

Beth said...

I am all over "I'm turning left." My 3 year old does NOT. STOP. TALKING. Case in point? My husband picked them up from school the other day but had to take a work call on the way home. He asked the kids if they could be quiet for a few minutes, the 3 year old said, "No, that's not possible. I can't do that because I like to talk. A lot." And apparently he did not lie. Sometimes I have to ask them to stop talking just because I can't take it anymore. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one.

Elizabeth said...

Awesome funny post -- I'm relatively new to your blog and just love it. I'm going to start using the left turn excuse -- here is Los Angeles there are no left turn lanes or arrows and we all do this death-defying dash at every light --

Frau said...

Too funny!

missynall said...

That is freaky weird. I was at NET yesterday! LOVE that place. I missed my chance to hug your neck and tell you that you've got a big bunch of folks rootin' for ya! Can't wait to use the "I'm can't, I'm turning left." excuse. Think it will work on upcoming PTA posts they need to fill?

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Turning left. Hmm. A thought-provoking excuse and possible book title. Seriously. Writing a book is way down on your list no doubt but give it some thought.

XOXO

Elle said...

O, your budding naturopathic protector!

My kids saw "Fly Away Home" with Anna Pacquin a few years ago, and if you watch the opening closely (by which I mean, if you screen it over and over with acerbic color-commentary), you see that her mom died in a car crash. One minute, they are laughing & chatting and the next, a truck's headlights are boring down on them.


So in our car, I just ask, desperately, "Would you rather have a mother or a flock of goslings? You have to choose!"

Lisa Lilienthal said...

They have TVs at Target. I'm just sayin'. And I have an aunt who describes a bad day as a "left turn day." I think y'all would love each other. So glad you are feeling like your sassy self!

M said...

I am in league with Lawyer Mom on this one. You could easily cull from your blog portfolio to create a book. I'm not even going to react to the content of this post since so many already have. I would just like to say that I very much appreciate how extraordinarily well written it is. You unpacked all the layers so perfectly.

Mary
Flat Rock Creek Notebook

Veronica said...

Ha! I love the "I'm turning left" comment too, but I'm actually still stuck on the midwife listening to Absalom, Absalom! on audio book. I can't decide if that is wonderful, or crazy, or both. What would you do in those "ZOMG, wait, WHAT???" moments, when you need to rifle back through to other parts of the book to figure out what the frack is happening?

Michele R said...

This is awesome. When you are published please remember all of us who knew you when.
I frequently tell mine they must be quiet so that I can not get into a wreck. They obey. They are more calm now though since they are a little older.
Note, when Hubs and I are together on long trips they seem to go crazy when it is my turn at the wheel.

Michele R said...

That was me above.
BTW I have one who will be driving in about 2 years. I was just talking to him the other day as I was waiting to turn left about how you really have to be cautious on left turns. He had no idea why.

Keely said...

Turning left is kind of like going sideways?

I'm with Erika, I've adopted "what the hecks" into my everyday parlance, so now I'll start turning left, too.

Sara said...

I really needed some Sub Mat, so this hit the spot.

Lady restaurant, the exertion required to pleasantly package "what's up with you," the talking the talking the talking, the midwife!

You're on your game, missy!

gretchen said...

Maybe the audio tape method is how I could finally get through Ulysses. I've tried reading it three times, and I always get to that chapter that is just one unbelievably long run-on sentence, and I get bogged down. Maybe I can find one read by some really hot Irishman, say Colin Farrell. Oh this is a good idea, I'm going to get hunting for this.

Thank Bob for that Hank, he'll take care of his Mama.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

I'm going to have to try the turning left excuse. Luke has his moments of talking, not listening, more talking and then says, "Mommy, I'm not driving you crazy."

abdpbt said...

Absalom Absalom? You have GOT to be kidding me. But yeah, even worse if you're turning left.

delaine said...

Vapidity?!! My foot! This was a delicious post! And do you know why? Because in every paragraph your high quality as a person- and a mom comes shining through. The fact that you think about how to package a Cliff's Notes version of your breast cancer experience in a listener friendly way speaks volumes. BTW, I love the "I'm turning left"gambit. Genius!

Ginny Marie said...

We only have one TV, but are a two computer family. Thank Bob God. ;)

Camp Papa said...

I have it on good authority that if the Son of God were younger he would be called Rob God...but that is so fraught is problems, it's just as well that he was born in the first century.

Camp Papa said...

That should be, "fraught with problems..."

Amy Whitley said...

"I am not at all flippant about this. I mean that this conversation has a goal and if you will relax, I will get us to our destination."

This right here? This is one thing that makes you awesome. I'd be so horrible about people asking, asking, asking everywhere I go.

And we have two TVs, but still have to get in line to watch what we want. Perhaps we watch too much? Nooooo.

Rebekah said...

I use the "I'm turning" excuse too in the car and I don't even make it direction-specific! Sometimes it's as vague as "I'm driving." Keep blogging BW!

The Stiletto Mom said...

How do you even survive with one TV? ::shudders::

Julie at ModernDayMiddleAge said...

I often need everyone (especially in the car) to stop talking. But they never do. I'm going to try the "I'm turning left" thing and see how it goes. If I got two minutes out of it, I'd be ecstatic. Personally, I think it'll bring on a shit storm of questions, ramping up both the volume of words and the volume itself but whatever. It's worth a try.

As an aside, I'm new here and I was just noticing that you've tagged Target 12 times and Grandparents just 11 times. That's cool.

A Day That is Dessert said...

I love "I'm turning left" - think I'll adopt it as my new mantra. We have two laptops, one TV. My husband watches most of his sports on his laptop.

Mad Woman said...

We play the "whoever stays quiet longest will get a cookie before bed" game. This usually keeps them quiet for about two minutes whereupon I declare a foul and remind them of the unwritten rules requiring at least two HOURS of silence.

I'll have to try the left turn thing.

Stacee said...

We have 3 TV's in 700 sq feet. So there is always a TV to watch Lost on. And the wide screen is always reserved for LOST.

Stephanie said...

I just found your blog. This post made me wake my boyfriend up because I was laughing too loudly. Thank you.

Sylvia said...

You (and Beth in comments) make me feel so much better. Sometimes I just want my 3 year old to STOP Talking. He never stops - unless he's in a funk and then I worry about him after enjoying the blessed silence for a few mins.

Bob God is the best! Saying things like that are the only reason they make it to 4!