Sorry I Can’t Talk, I Have Kids!

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moms stressThe art of having a conversation while children are present is my biggest pet peeve. And believe me, it’s not for lack of trying. It’s supremely frustrating trying to talk above and through the chattering haze of children with equal parts grace and respect. And if you’ve been the person with children attempting this, or the person who doesn’t have children trying to talk to your friend whose child has taken center stage in your conversation scenario, you too can relate.

Surely I can’t be the only one who feels ridiculously short-changed and slightly embittered by the real-life consequence of these perennial interruptions? For me, it’s gotten so bad that I can no longer string a complete coherent sentence together even when children aren’t present.

Moms, ask yourselves: When was the last time you were able to catch an uninterrupted 10 minutes to ruminate on that horrific moment in The Hills when Heidi Montag goes to visit her mother for the first time after umpteen surgeries? You ran for the phone desperately dialing the numbers to your best mommy BFF to talk about (a) how you would have reacted the same way, (b) how “some” mothers are jerks, and you totally would have placed square blame on the shoulders of Mother Montag for not showing her daughter “enough” self-love, or (c) how privileged preppy white males are the scourge of the earth and you blame MTV for all of the world’s problems.

Except none of this happened because at that precise moment, the custom-ordered lunch that was delivered to your 3-year-old by you, her personal chef, precisely 15 minutes before your phone call, coincidentally required re-heating. Hold me back.

I recall having a telephone conversation with my daughters’ principal one afternoon about a Very Important Matter. I was completely mortified and embarrassed that my girls were continuously screaming and giggling around me no matter how many times I gave them the death stare. As I repeatedly attempted to shush them, dashing from room to room plugging my one available ear, and apologizing profusely for the endless back-chatter, the principal started laughing and said, “You don’t think that you’re the only person this happens to, do you?”

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  1. Firesparx

    January 30, 2012 at 10:12 am

    My 5 1/2 year old niece has been taught to tap her mom and then wait patiently when she has something to interject. She is so good at the patient part (usually) that sometimes we forget about her and continue talking and sometimes move onto new topics…Oops! I’ve been spoiled by her well-behaved children that it drives me nuts when I visit other families where the kids are allowed to interrupt at any moment even with frivolous requests.

  2. Abigail

    January 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Well, apart from being on the phone, the children must wait until we are done talking to speak. If it’s terribly important, then they can say excuse me and wait until we respond. If they try to interrupt, they are told that they must wait. I want them to know that they are not always the most important conversationalist in the room. As far as being on the phone is concerned, we have a firm rule that they may not interrupt me or ask for anything while I am on the phone, period. The only exception would be if they were bleeding profusely or the house was burning down.

    As you mentioned, though, these techniques are all about consistency and reminders, and not always perfect. But, on the other hand, they are 2 and 3 1/2, so I’m hoping it gets better. 🙂

  3. doubledutchduh

    January 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    The Hills? Wow, topical.

  4. HD

    February 1, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for this article. I related to it.

    I have two kids 3 and 10 months and talking on the phone is always a challenge. I have to plan a quiet activity to keep my kids entertained so I can have an uninterrupted phone conversation. Not because I haven’t taught the 3 year old not to interrupt., but because he knows I’ll be distracted and that is the time he’ll pick to try something he isn’t sure I’d approve of.

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