Lost in Translation: The Art of Ignoring Mom
Today was one of those days where my nerves were shot from the instant I got out of bed. This was most likely the result of having to take my morning pee with a four-year-old talking non-stop about his hockey game that evening. Bathroom audiences before coffee are a bad omen for what is to come for the day.
At 5 AM, my youngest, Will Jr., came down dressed, teeth brushed, and ready to go to hockey. There was only one problem—hockey wasn’t until 6 PM. So, an early start to the day it was.
For some reason, waking up early made me much more alert. Maybe it was because I was looking for a reason to be pissed off. Waking up with your kids even when you don’t want to is not reason enough to be mad. It’s a recipe for guilt and a trip to a therapist, so I need to deflect. Thus, I decided I was going to pay attention to the shit that goes on around my house.
Don’t get me wrong; I still ignored the pile of laundry waiting to be put away. I aimed my focus in a different direction. (I hate laundry anyway, so it will sit there until Will, my husband, bitches about it and does it himself.) I noticed that every time I said something, my kids translated it to mean something else.
It was like we were speaking two different languages. All. Day. Long. So, I spent the day trying to decipher what they were hearing in hopes of bridging this communication gap that is plaguing our home. I think I figured it out.
Here are few different scenarios where I clearly understood what they were hearing. And, in their defense, it was definitely not what I was saying.
What I said: Ok guys time to eat breakfast. What do you want?
What they heard: Turn on the TV and ignore everything mom says.
What I said: Guys, I have to make a phone call, go in the other room and try to be quite for a few minutes.
What they heard: Follow mom around and ask her for a drink every thirty seconds. The shushing and the hand waving means talk louder and more frequently. We need to get her to flip out, so the person on the other end of the phone thinks she’s bat shit crazy.
This one struck me as odd, because I told them to go outside, and they stayed inside. I am puzzled here.
What I said: Ok, guys. It’s time to get into the car for hockey.
What they heard: Pick up the closest toy and make a huge mess while mom runs around frantically looking for our hockey stuff. Then, when she goes outside to look for us, act shocked at her frustration and rage. See if you can make her say that nasty swear word loud enough for the neighbors to hear.
Apparently, it wasn’t just the kids either. I am not sure if I am not speaking standard American English or what, because my husband was not interpreting clear instructions. I even used short sentences like the marriage books say to when you want your husband to pay attention.
What I said: We have to get the little ones changed as soon as they step off the ice. Johnny is at a pool party. He has to be picked up by 7. The game should be done at 7. The girl who is hosting the party said we could be 15 minutes late getting him.
What he heard: Stop and talk to every person you see on the way out. Make sure it’s meaningless small talk about why you and I disagree about downloading Kodi onto our Amazon FireStick. We want to make sure we impose on the family who said we could be a few minutes late so that Johnny is never invited back to see that girl he thinks is cute.
Needless to say, we were more than 15 minutes late, and I bitched the entire ride there about how pirating movies, regardless of the ethically gray area, is not worth viruses and fines. I wonder what he heard me saying there?
If I had to guess, it was probably something along the lines of Go ahead and do it anyway, and when it screws all of the shit up, I’ll sort it out, don’t worry.
Only time will tell on that one, but it will most likely be another blog post.
Another thing I noticed about this language barrier is that it grew more pronounced at night. I am not sure if sleep deprivation and sheer exhaustion have something to do with my word choice. Or, it could be like a fever, and it naturally gets worse at night. It’s hard to say, but one thing was certain, my kids did not hear anything I had to say.
The oldest was struggling the most this evening. We might need to see an audiologist.
What I said: Dogs need to be fed.
What my oldest heard: Make sure you keep your SnapChat streaks, don’t worry about pitching in. That arbitrary number beside a person’s name you barely know is far more important than taking care of our pets.
What I said: Put your laundry away.
What he heard: Only pay attention to your phone.
What I said: Please empty the trash and put a new bag in the can.
What he heard: Take out the trash, but do not put a new bag in the can. Mom wants to clean out the fridge and accidentally throw smelly leftovers into a bagless can so she has to scrub the trash can at 8:00 o’clock at night.
I did manage to find a phrase that bridged the language barrier with my teenager today though.
What I said: If you don’t put that damn phone down and stop doing things half-assed, I am going to take it from you and post, “I love my mom” all over your SnapChat.
What he heard: Oh shit, she’s serious; I better pacify her for a bit.
So with rancid leftovers clinging to my flesh, a teenager with a list of chores and the focus to complete them, I decided I was hiding in the bathroom. This, of course, needed to be stated loud and clear.
What I said: I am going to get a bathroom, locking the door, and taking a bath. Does anyone need anything before I go in there?
What they all heard: Wait until she settles in and peace of mind is within reach. Then start fighting with one another really loud. One of you should hit one of your siblings to make them cry. Then move the shit storm you created directly outside the bathroom door so mom can mediate from in the bathtub.
Where was my husband during all this chaos? He was hiding outside, talking on the phone about buying a boat. Are you kidding me? Buying a boat? Especially after we talked about it last night, and I said it wasn’t in the budget.
Apparently, everything I say is getting lost in translation because what he heard was: Go ahead and look for a boat, we will figure out how to pay for it.
So, sorry kids, they don’t offer scholarships for the kind of bilingual household we have. And, dad is blowing your college savings on a midlife crisis. So, this communication breakdown we have going on is going to result in student loan payments until you are 50.
No worries, you can just move into my basement. I have no hopes of being heard in this lifetime anyway.
Please don’t ignore me like my kids do. Join my mail list so I have someone to vent to.