BY SARAH NIGBOR
I think there should be an award for not letting children or dear husbands distract you from performing important tasks, such as working from home, driving, preparing dinner, writing columns, my list could go on. There should be extra credit for not losing your mind too.
As I write this column, my darling daughter is spinning in a desk chair next to me at The Journal office. I know sitting here on deadline Monday isn’t the most exciting thing for a 9year-old to do, but hopefully she’s learning patience. She’s certainly getting some reading done. So far, I’ve been asked at least 15 questions about Walt Disney. She insisted she might die if she didn’t get fed immediately. I heard seven animal jokes. She screamed loud enough that I’m pretty sure they heard her in Plum City when she saw a spider. I can’t imagine what our neighbors at The Service Agency thought if they heard her, which how could they not?
I have become an expert at meeting deadlines while having every distraction possible thrown at me. Helping a fourth grader complete online school and writing police reports? No problem. Hammering out a school board story while three boys fight over the TV remote? Old news. Driving down the highway while everyone sings The Barney song at top volume trying to drive me insane? Try harder. Hearing my phone ding and buzz and vibrate with texts, emails and calls. Big deal.
I’ve become especially good at remaining stone-faced and unflappable in the car. I had to, or else we’d be in a ditch somewhere. You never know what “emergency” will erupt with kids in the car.
It could be anything from a bee buzzing around, to someone looking at someone else, to seeing a Slug Bug (a Volkswagen Beatle) and a child too exuberantly slugging a sibling, bringing on howls of indignation. My daughter despises insects and I cannot count how many times her blood-curdling scream has ripped through the car when she saw (or thought she saw) an offending Asian beetle, spider or ant.
Just today in the McDonald’s drive-thru line, right in front of the window, she shrieked in fear at an evil box elder bug. I give the employee credit because he didn’t even blink as the window slid open. I seriously think her scream was so loud it triggered the drive-thru window to open. I wanted to sink through the car seat.
No matter how many times I tell my family, “OK, for the next two hours I need to be left alone so I can get these stories done,” IT. NEVER. HAPPENS. Even when I lock myself in my room, my office at home, or I’m at work.
For example, my dear husband would not survive without me. He might not admit that, but it’s true. Without me I fear he’d never find his wallet, his pants, his belt, his computer charger, his gradebook, his football whistle, his new debit card, his insurance cards, etc. And of course, the time he always needs these immediately is when I’m on a deadline. Even if I’m not at home, I can’t escape the pleas of desperation in the form of a phone call. “Do you know where I put my keys?” Or how many times I’ve been blamed for moving something when I never even saw it to begin with.
I’ll admit I felt especially vindicated this summer when my dear husband called me repeatedly on Deadline Monday, swearing I had taken his truck keys by mistake and they had to be in my car. Imagine his surprise and my delight when he found them in the grass under a tree where they’d slipped from his shorts pocket after mowing the lawn.
Another common emergency in my family is people need food. How does that distract me, you ask? Because I’m pretty sure they have a compulsive need to tell me when they’re hungry and thirsty, although they’re quite capable of grabbing an apple, making a sandwich or pouring a glass of milk between meals. And it’s never a simple request. Not like for a snack. It’s more along the lines of, “Sarah, can you make us lasagna right now?” “Mommy, I’m hungry for ham and pickle rolls. I NEED them NOW!” Text message from teenage boy: I’m starving. Can you make me a box of Rice-A-Roni. I’m almost home.” Needless to say, I do not drop everything to fulfill these requests.
My husband can be sitting two feet from me, doing absolutely nothing, but the kids will not ask him for a thing. They must ask the one typing.
And they wonder why sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom.