I’m one of you, I want to explain to children, mine included. I’m one with you, I feel your pain, I know your oppression, I share in the unjust absurdities of the world and I resist them too. Except when I don’t, and I suddenly realize that I am the Mother, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
M is a reader. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It should be perfectly clear to anyone who regularly peruses this blog that reading is big in the Becca-S-M-E household. Indeed, I believe that recently I myself was heard to blog about how I loved books almost as much as S, M, and E, and more than just about anything else. So I’m happy that M is a reader.
But M is an oblivious reader, the kind who, once the book is in front of her, does not look up. For anything. I have a feeling that I might have been this kind of reader once, the kind who reads until the room is practically dark, who reads no matter what is going on around her, who reads and does not hear her name being called, and called again, and again, and again.
But now I am no longer that reader. Instead I am the Mother of that reader. And that reader is driving me [expletive] nuts.
For a while I thought it was hereditary. S’s father--another reader--can ignore the entire world if he is engrossed in his reading, or his thinking, for that matter. When I want to get S’s attention away from a newspaper or book, I need to say his name over and over, loudly, ask him if he is paying attention, and often kick him for good measure. It makes me crazy when E stands in front of him calling “Daddy! Daddy! DADDY!” and he doesn’t look up. But it’s their relationship and there’s nothing I can do about him, besides occasionally yell, even louder, “S!! E IS TALKING TO YOU!” So I thought M was just being like her father and grandfather in reading right through me, and it was hopeless.
But then the other day she admitted the truth: she hears me call her name (and really, I only try to get her attention for things like, oh, dinner) and she is more interested in her book, so she ignores me. That is to say, in case you haven’t fully grasped what’s going on here: she purposefully does not respond when I call her. She wants to read and she doesn’t want to answer me, so she keeps reading. [Insert steam coming out of my ears and an intense desire to physically abuse offspring.]
And here’s where I just can’t help being the Mother. If I were still the child, this would seem perfectly reasonable. If I were simply a reader, this would seem perfectly reasonable. After all, to a reader, what could be more important than reading? But no, I am the Mother, and I think coming to the table for dinner is important, and choosing between leftover pasta and a roast beef sandwich so that you will actually eat your lunch is important, and the question of whether you’ve done your homework is important too. And I just want to break her neck.
But I don’t. I call her. I call her again. I call her again. I call her again really loudly. Then I take the book away. After all, I am the Mother.