Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Untapped Superpowers

By Melanie Lynne Hauser

The other day, I discovered I have yet another untapped superpower I wasn’t aware I possessed. (I have many of these, I’m sure. I’m positively convinced I have yet to reach the zenith of my powers as a writer, mother and shopper.)

You know how I have these kids who eat all my food, take all my money, and rarely speak to me? (Some people call them teenagers.) Well, the other day I picked one of them up from school.

Now, normally when I pick him up, I smile pleasantly, ask how his day went, did he have any plans after school, what did he want for dinner — you know, giving him my undivided attention. And normally he just sighs, rolls his eyes and grunts, telling me in a thousand different ways (through body language, not actual spoken language) how much he wishes he were anywhere else but in my presence.

But yesterday, I was on my cell phone. I was talking to a friend when I had to leave to pick him up, so I just kept on talking, and when he got in the car I merely nodded at him and went on talking to my friend. I talked all the way home, ignoring him all together.

When I hung up — after we got out of the car to go inside — he gave a great big, put-upon sigh. “Jeez, Mom. Finally. You know what you remind me of? You know those movies when the parent is so busy working and on the phone making deals and stuff that she ignores her kid but something happens at the end of the movie and she realizes she’s missed his entire childhood and vows to change her ways and be a good parent? You remind me of that.” (Yes, this son does have a flair for the dramatic.)

Now, you have to understand. 999% of the time I am all HIS; asking, watching, applauding, listening, laughing appreciatively at every little thing. And all that has gotten me, in the past, is exasperated eye-rolling and annoyed grunts.

I almost said this, but then I didn’t. All I did was shrug my shoulders, pretend not to care, and say, “Oh, well. I was busy.”

My son, he reacted with — well, with big sad orphan eyes. And also — by talking, nonstop. We went inside, he sat down with me at the kitchen table and told me every single thing that had happened to him at school. We got back in the car to go to his drum lessons and he never stopped chattering; a 180 degree turnaround from the normally frosty silence he maintains whenever stuck inside a vehicle with me.

And I just smiled. Reveling in my newfound superpower — Super Pretend Indifference.

Try it. You’ll like it.


Kalynne Pudner said...

Great idea! I can't wait to try it. Even though I strongly suspect it's just going to be interpreted as permission for them to talk on the cell phone while driving.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

And I bet he didn't even see your "S" shirt underneath your mom clothes. You are so tricky!

Threeundertwo said...

This is like the reverse-psychology we used to use on them as toddlers. I love it!

nina rubin said...

I'll have to remember this. Nothing like putting your kid on "ignore" as a tactic.

Barb McKone said...

Good idea! I need to revisit that! I ignored my son for about an hour once when he was in Kindergarten for the same reason- he still remembers it. Great lesson! Do you think he'll talk about it in therapy someday? One hour amidst a lifetime of adoring attention could quite possibly turn into "My mom used to ignore me..."

Elissa said...

You know, sometimes I wish my two girls would STOP talking. Is that a difference in boys and girls? Or is it just that mine have not reached teen-dom yet?

What my husband got today were eye-rolls because we walked too slow behind them on the way to get ice cream. Oh, we also were told that we were old and fat. Well, they didn't say fat. They just implied it. Actually, they implied we were WIDE. Nice, eh?

They are usually much kinder than that - but really, they talk far too much. Think if I talk non-stop to them I could get the silent treatment for a bit???