January 27, 2009

Nothing is more important than you

K, L and I were sitting upstairs on K's bed about to read a bedtime story.
L: Why does K have cream by her bed?

Me: Well, sometimes she gets dry skin and the cream helps.

K (proudly): So if you’re doing something really important on your computer I don’t have to interrupt you.

OK, let the schmucky feeling begin.

I reflect glumly on how often I tell them not to interrupt me while I’m sitting at the computer. I gave up a high-paid traveling job to be at home with them every night but I can't seem to give up my laptop. I worry sometimes that my kids will either be obsessed with computers or totally loath them… but it’s so nice and quiet in Cyberspace.

And teaching kids not to interrupt is important, right?

But K’s comment has unsettled me a lot. Do my kids understand the difference between not interrupting every two seconds and not having access to a loving parent? Or do they think that a stupid laptop is more important than their needs???

Me: Hey. You know that nothing’s more important than you, right?

Solemn nod but I want to make sure she gets it.

Me: Sometimes I’m working and don’t like it when you interrupt me all the time for stuff you can handle yourself, like L has 3 pens and you only have 2.

Another nod.

Me: But if you need me you should interrupt me. Nothing I ever do on my computer or anywhere else is more important than you guys.

I watch K mull this over.

K: So, like, if L wants to spill a whole glass of water on my bed I should tell you, even if you’re working on your computer?
Where the hell did that come from???
Me: Um. Yes, that’s a good example.

K: Or if we’re playing upstairs and she falls on her head?

Me: Exactly. Definitely you should tell me about that.

K: Or if Jela hits L over the head with something hard?

Me: Er. Yes, that’s right. Does Jela actually do that?

K: Or if…

I interrupt hastily – knowing the fertile imagination of my 5-year-old daughter this litany could go on for hours.

I briefly consider drilling down on the Jela question (pronounced ‘Yella’) but I figure I would know if she had ever actually hit my kids over the head because they would cry and I would hear it. For the moment, the unsavory Jela and her allegedly violent tendencies are beside the point.

Me (with liberal use of italics for emphasis): It's like this, Sweetie. If I’m working and you just had two snacks but you want another one or something like that, please wait and don’t interrupt. But if you have a real problem, like someone is hurt or you think someone is going to get hurt, or even if you’re just sad or lonely and feel like you need mommy, you should come tell me. Always. Because nothing in the whole wide world is as important as you guys.

Pretty good, huh?
A thoughtful pause. It's sinking in. I can't believe how much I rule.

K: How come?
Gah!

Me (a tiny bit irritated): Because you’re my BABIES and I love you more than EVERYthing, what do you think?

K: More than Guthrie? (our cat)

Gah!

Me: Yes! I mean, I love Guthrie too but he’s not my baby.
K: Because he didn't come out of your tummy?
Me: Um. Yes, exactly.

K: Do you love us more than….?

I head her off quickly before we get totally off topic.

Me: K, do you understand what I just said?

K smiles at me and nods. I think she understands.

K: I love you, Mommy.

Phew.

Me: I love you too, Baby.

So much it hurts.

5 comments:

  1. Your children are so cool. Can I have one?

    ReplyDelete
  2. You do have to stop the litany or it will go on forever! Love that age.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is the problem with laptops - they are so accessible. My kids, unfortunately (fortunately?) are old enough to say things like, "You're ALWAYS on your computer Mom. You should get off once in a while." Somehow that just makes such a statement, you know?

    ReplyDelete

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