This probably isn’t news, but the Puddinette often throws her hands into the air, gives me The Look of Near Apoplectic Rage and asks me if I’m “even listening to her.” In all honesty, the truth is, No, I’m not. I mean, I’m sort of, kind of, listening, maybe. Much in the same way that you can be reading a book and ten pages later come to realize you have no idea whether you’ve been reading about fairy princesses or fancy pirates.
Sure, your eyes saw the words, but your brain is actually trying to plan dinner for the week or working on a scheme to convince your better half that a Harley is a good retirement plan.
I’m thinking the offer of a new “riding wardrobe” is the key there, but I’m still working on my long term strategy.
Anyway, “are you even listening to me” is akin to the locomotive-like sound a tornado is supposed to make. By the time you hear the question, it’s already much too late; catastrophe is upon you.
So, yes, although I know it might seem like I’m the perfect man, husband, and father, indeed, every woman’s dream, the fact is that living with me can be a little trying sometimes. And yes, I’m occasionally caught barely listening for certain keywords to crop up when my wife speaks to me.
Having come clean about that particular failing, though, I also feel compelled to mention that it’s so totally not my fault.
You can just belay that eye-rolling, cadet. I’m serious. Really, I mean it. See, I was doomed from the get-go. For one thing, genetics were stacked against me. My father has a gift. He could sit in the middle of a preschool playroom flush with sugared, caffeinated children while the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse prance about, visiting destruction, plagues, and thunder upon us as, at that same moment, a pair of speed metal bands go toe-toe, back-and-forth in a 500-decibel Battle of the Band. Yeah, he could do that and block out every, last audible potential interruption.
Seriously, you want his attention? Sometimes you have to stick him with a kitchen utensil.
So, you know, I’ve got the hyper-focus and I block stuff out naturally. It’s like a super-power. On top of that, over the past 9 years, I have been systematically training my perception to participate in multiple conversations at once, as needed.
Why would that ever be needed? Have some children.
Kids like to be able to tell you things, especially when you first get home from work or when the family is out taking a drive. For instance, last week, on the way home from somewhere, Princess Puddinette decided to interject fun facts about her school best friend every 30 seconds. At the exact same time, Mini-Me was discussing the upcoming season of “The Haunting Hour” while the Puddinpop was telling me about the Legend of the Mothman. Yes, all simultaneously.
Now, is it really possible to actively hold three conversations at once? Not for me. As far as being a gifted conversationalist goes, I’m pretty good at writing blog posts. So when the kids get rolling and all want some attention, as a parent, you do the best you can. Basically, that boils down to knocking responses back across the net like playing three games of tennis at the same time.
PP: “Did I tell you about the time my friend Sally* met me on the playground?”
Me: “Well, yes, and I don’t think you need to tell me every last thing about Sally…”
MM: “Dad, The Haunting Hour is one tomorrow. Can we record it?”
Me: “Um, yeah, I think the DVR is already set to…”
Pop: “They saw the Mothman in the fields. He had wings like a moth but big red eyes.”
Me: “Where did you read about…”
MM: “Ok, can you check the DVR when we get home?”
Pop: “We read about it in a book in the library. It’s true.”
Me: “Well, just because you saw it in a book…”
PP: “Sally and me got to play jump rope on the playground today.”
Me: “Oh, that’s…”
Pop: “Dad! Did I tell you that a monkey! in Indonesia! stole a camera! and took a picture of himself?!?!”
And yes, that was an actual exchange that took place in the Family Truckster, right down to the critical interjection regarding the larcenous Indonesian monkey.
Am I occasionally a poor listener? Yes, yes I am. I’ll admit it.
Then again, sometimes I think it’s a miracle I don’t take my meals through a straw in a white, padded room.
So I guess that’s something.
Oh, what? Were you saying something?
*Real names have been changed to protect, well, everyone