I have become convinced that my children do not really listen to me until I have completely lost my shit.
Look, I know that doesn't sound very nice, and believe me, it doesn't make me FEEL very nice, but what else am I supposed to think when I tell them in at least five escalating ways to stop jumping off the couch and it's only when I unhinge my jaw and release a bloodcurdling scream from the darkest, ugliest part of my soul that they need to CUT IT OUT RIGHT NOW DAMMIT OR I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL START CRAMMING TOYS IN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL that they actually pay attention?
"Look," I've told them more than once. "I don't want to yell. Please don't make me yell. You need to listen to me right now, okay? BEFORE THE YELLING STARTS."
And they blankly tip their adorable little heads at me like that Far Side cartoon, you know the one:
Because apparently the words that are coming out of my mouth have no meaning until they are delivered at top volume, accompanied by a pair of bulging, red-veined eyeballs.
Oddly enough, they are perfectly attentive when it comes to phrases like, "You guys want to go to the playground?" and "Hey, who wants a banana muffin?" It's the buzzkill statements they love to ignore, presumably in order to see just how serious I really am about that couch-jumping business.
I think there's actually a list of certain keywords they've programmed themselves to deliberately misunderstand. For instance:
I say: "Guys, guys! Quiet down, please."
They hear: "Mwah wah mua mwah mwah mwahhhh."
I say: "Hey! Be careful."
They hear: "Whatever you're doing, ramp that up to eleven. Don't you want to see what will happen if the chair tips all the way over? I know I do!"
I say: "Riley, Dylan, you need to pick up the living room."
They hear: "When you have a minute, come on in and play with the toys in here, but only when you're ready. No rush."
I say: "You guys, I really need you to calm down right now."
They hear: "Go ahead and completely devolve yourselves to a primitive Lord of the Flies level of loud-assed savagery, completely with incoherent animal hooting, hysterical laughter, and earsplitting shrieks. What the hell, you're only young once!"
I say: "No diaper jokes at the dinner table. Don't make me say this again."
They hear: "You should totally make me say this again."
Honestly, sometimes I just want to scoop them up and give them a big hug and tell them that Mommy loves them very much and that if they're looking to test boundaries, I'd be more than happy to use a length of livestock fencing to help them explore limits all day long. In their tiny, soundproofed veal pens. While I sit back and read a magazine and revel in the blessed, blessed silence.
Do your kids wait until you've gone half insane before they do what you're telling them to?