I like to wake at six o’clock, before my kids are up, so I can have quiet time with a cup of coffee and the news. If I only get halfway through the Daily Wrap before someone awakes, that constitutes a BAD NEWS DAY, which makes me very cross, because that is my only opportunity during the day to see what is going on in the world. And then I feel conflicted, because although I am happy to see my children, I can’t help but wish it was not quite yet.
Lately I’ve taken a harder line about their respecting my need for my quiet time. And though they try as best they can, of course they can’t, because they are children. So I close the computer, but can only pretend to listen, because my brain is shouting: SHUT THE FUCK UP*, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET MOMMY READ THE NEWS, which of course I would never say.
At least, not yet.
A friend of mine told me that one of her most liberating parenting moments came when her children were teenagers, bickering in the back seat while she was driving. She turned to them and without malice, said, “Shut the fuck up.” And they did.
I can’t wait for that day.
During short trips around town, I keep the radio off, so I can talk with my kids. I am not very chatty, so mainly they talk, and I listen, and we have some of our nicest conversations this way, as I hear the news of their days, and their hopes and dreams.
Sometimes, though, I just can’t concentrate on safely piloting the car while trying to answer vexing questions, like “What is the difference between a prostitute and a whore,”** “How do cats decide who to marry,” or, as Sacha is fond of asking, “What are we having for dinner tomorrow?”
At these times, I impose a talk amongst yourselves policy, but because the habit of car chatting is so ingrained, I find myself instinctutally answering questions, and then remembering that I told them not to talk to me. And so I cut myself off mid-sentence, and sternly say, “Please don’t talk to me, I am DRIVING!”
When they are older, I hope they do not hold this confusing mixed messaging against me.
*How I wish this book had been around when my children were younger.
**In an eerie self-fulfilling prophesy, I was recently asked this, several weeks after pondering this very question in this space.