Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day One: Alarm Clocks, Accountability, and April Fools

It happened again, as it happened last year and quite possibly the year before that.

My automatic alarm clock reset itself for some time change that no longer exists.

I'm laying in bed this morning in suspended animation, wrapped in my some-Kelvin-degree blanket, when I decide to peek one eye at the clock.  Of the three numbers from which to choose, I'm really only concerned with the first:  a 7.

"Bullshit," I mutter.  There is no way it is in the sevens.  I'm an idiot before my coffee, but even I can figure that out.  While one eye is on the clock, the other is now glancing toward the curtained windows.  (I can do this because I'm a mom.  We all know how to do this.  Something loosens up during delivery, affording us the ability to look in all directions at once.)

That wandering eye is going to make her a terrific mother someday.

Behind the curtains, the sun tells a different story:  something along the lines of, "Kiss my ass, even I'm not awake yet."

The eye on the clock is certain that the first number is indeed a seven. 

Eventually, I get out of bed, throw on my robe, and mosey to the kitchen.  As if to quell my fears, the kitchen clock decides to tell me the truth.  "Lady," I hear it whisper, "your alarm clock has lied to you."

I answer something unintelligible back to the stove, taking a cup of yesterday's reheated coffee out to the porch.  Why?  Why?  Why do people lie?

Consider this:  A scene from Friday night's dinner.

4 children and 2 adults sit on various chairs throughout the house, eating pizza off of paper plates left over from Caleb's baby shower ("It's a Boy!").  I'm in the house, knocking heads and taking names, when my best pal hollers out from the back porch something to the effect of, "How come you kids are so good for everyone else, but you don't ever listen to me?"

(My best pal, Becky, is the owner of two of the pizza-eating children.)

I decide to get to the bottom of this.  She is absolutely correct.  Why don't they listen?

I start with the 5-year-old girl.  Being the only girl-child in residence, I figure she is going to be the easiest to break.  Like dominoes, I imagine that once she crumbles, everyone else will follow suit.

From my invisible pocket I slip my invisible Drill Sergeant Mask.

(In addition to the wandering eye, this is another component to parenting that one absolutely must pick up.  They are hard to come by new, but you can usually find them at garage sales, dusty and forgotten.  You'll notice at these garage sales that the children of the house are usually around 8 or 9 years old and are running around spitting on the shoppers, trying to steal the change from their pockets.  Their parents obviously still need these masks, but have given up wearing them, so you can get them at a pretty good price.)

I look her right in the eye.  "Why don't you listen your mother?"  I ask her in my most threatening tone.

She thinks about it for a second, pizza frozen halfway to her mouth.  "Uhmm, I don't know?"  She says it in the form of a question, like a Jeopardy! contestant.

Okay, okay.  I messed up my strategy.  Let me begin with my own oldest child, age 7.  Once he breaks, surely the others are going to be easy.

"Aidan," I say, pulling his attention away from his feet, on which he's been focused since this conversation began.  "Why don't you listen to Aunt Becky?"

He hems and haws, adjusting the pizza from his left hand to his right hand, then back to his left hand again.

"Well," he says, thoughtfully.  "I guess it's because...," he adds.  I'm thinking this is really going to go somewhere.

"Well, uh, can you just pass me?  I'm going to pass.  I pass.  Just come back to me."  Hmph.  Like he's the host or something and can just call the shots.  Whatever.

I try the third child.  In response to my question, I get another "I don't know" answer.  I point to Caleb, 14-months-old, sitting in his high chair.  Oblivious.

"Listen, you guys.  'I don't know' is not an answer.  If I were to ask Caleb that question, he'd just sit and smile at me like a doofus.  He wouldn't answer me, either.  If I ask you guys a question and you tell me 'I don't know,' it amounts to the same thing.  'I don't know' is not an answer!  You haven't told me anything."

The only sound in the room is the chewing of their pizza.

Where is the accountability?  Children don't have it.  Alarm clocks don't have it.  Ebay doesn't have it.  Does anyone have it anymore?

I have it.  I do.  I get a rush out of telling the truth.  Especially when it's difficult.  Saying to someone, "Listen.  I'm sorry I broke your face.  I was upset with you, I just reached out, and bam!  It wasn't the best decision and I realize that now.  I, errr, oh boy.  I hope you can get that straightened out, especially that crazy eye you have.  What's that?  Oh, you're a mom?  Oh, then I didn't do that crazy thing to your eye?  Oh, okay.  Whew!"  I throw in a chuckle for good measure.  "So, can I ask you a question?  What time did you get up this morning?"