Posts Tagged ‘children’

Silence

October 12, 2011

This morning I’m practicing silence. No talking, no singing, no radio or television. No social media or text (except to let my unanswered callers and “tweeps” know that I am practicing silence and will contact them this afternoon).

I didn’t plan this. I simply didn’t feel like talking or hearing any noise. I hesitate before waking my younger son for school. Will I be able to avoid speaking to the inquisitive young scientist? As I tap him awake and beckon for him to get up and go in the bathroom, he looks at me questioningly.

“Mom, why aren’t you talking?”

I just shrug and leave the room. He doesn’t ask me any more questions and continues getting ready without my usual prodding and reminders to “wash your hands”, “brush your teeth”, “wash your face”, “lotion your body”, “hurry up and stop playing.” You know, the usual comments I’ve been repeating to him every school day for the last four years.

I go into the study and write a note. I’m not talking today. I’m practicing silence. I take the note back to my son’s bedroom and show it to him as he dresses.

“Why?” he asks.

I shrug again, and he shrugs too. Discussion over.

I go downstairs and pack his lunch, clean the kitchen and glance at the clock. He only has 20 more minutes before the bus is due to pick him up and I still haven’t seen him in the kitchen for breakfast. What should I do? Break my silence and shout up from the bottom of the stairs, “Malikkkkkk! Where are you?! Come on Man!”

Hm, nope. Not today. Instead I clap my hands loudly three times from the base of the stairs.

“Coming Mom,” my younger son responds immediately, and comes jogging down the stairs completely dressed and ready for school.

Normally, I have to shout up the stairs at least two or three times before getting a response, but I clap my hands three times and he comes running? Hm… I may actually be on to something here.

But there’s still one more hurdle to overcome. The teenager. The 6’0” athlete sprawled out on his bed that usually cannot be awakened by the annoying alarm on his cell phone, the force of his younger brother jumping on his back and bed, or me prodding him and yelling his name repeatedly for five minutes.

Let the challenge begin.

After kissing my younger son goodbye, I make my way upstairs with determination. I will not speak, I promise myself.

As I walk into his room, I can see his body twisted in the sheets and comforter. His legs are hanging off the bed on one side and his arm is hanging off the bed on the other. His mouth hangs ajar the way it does when he’s in a deep, deep sleep. I stop to mentally prepare myself. I will not speak.

I forcefully shake his arm and back for a few seconds, and miraculously, he moves, stretches… and turns over on the other side and goes back to sleep. I don’t give up, or shrink away from the challenge. Instead, I slap his bare leg, hard, and he mumbles something, but keeps his eyes closed. I walk out of the room to gather my thoughts, then turn back and bang as hard as I can on the bedroom door. He jumps up, startled, and looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Satisfied, I smile and wave him toward the bathroom.

“What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you saying anything?” he asks me with the slurred speech of someone waking from a deep sleep.

I shrug and point to my mouth. I mouth… Not Talking.

“Why not?”

I shrug again and leave the room.

Long story short, he actually makes it to the bus stop on time (a rarity, but that’s another story for another time). He doesn’t go without trying to get me to talk to him, though. I refuse with a smile, some gestures and a hug and kiss before he leaves.

As he walks to the front door, he tells me in his new, deep, authoritative, young man voice, “I don’t like this not-talking thing, Mom. You need to talk.” Then he leaves.

What a peaceful morning. No struggles, no fighting, no yelling upstairs, no threats, no last-minute scrambles and sprints across the yard to catch the moving bus as it drives away from the stop. Peace, calm and order.

I might be pushing my luck to try it tomorrow, but I’m okay with feeling satisfied with what I got today.

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Business Meeting @ Chuck E. Cheese

February 18, 2010

I recently had a flashback to Fall 2002. I was living in Baltimore and my fitness outsourcing business was just beginning to grow. I had 2 corporate contracts and new companies were calling me to hire teachers for their fitness centers. There was a fantastic Pilates and dance instructor I’d been dying to bring on board, but we could never seem to get our schedules to mesh.

“Can you do 11:30 on Monday?”

“Uh, let me see… nope, my oldest has a playdate. What about 5:30?”

“Nope, soccer practice at the Y. How about Tuesday at noon?”

“Can’t. The 2-year-old has TumbleTina class. Can you do earlier at 9:30?”

“Uh-uh. Sesame Street 9-10.” (sigh)

Finally, we agreed that the only way we would be able to meet was to schedule a business playdate at the local Chuck E. Cheese. I don’t like to use the word “hate”, so I’ll say, I truly dislike attending functions at Chuck E. Cheese.

Anyway, Chuck E. Cheese it was on a weekday around 11:45 am. Our 4-year olds chased each other in the jungle gym, while her 2-year old tossed colored balls into the mesh netting enclosing the ball bath. We each held a child, nursing, to our breast as we wrote quickly into our Franklin Planners and notebooks (yes, I was still doing Franklin Planner in 2002. I’d had a bad experience in 2000 when my Palm Pilot died unexpectedly and I didn’t know when or where I was going and couldn’t find numbers to call anyone to find out. It was 3 years of fear and mourning before I could return to electronic scheduling).

An hour and a half later, our meeting was done, the kids had all been fed, and a playdate had been knocked out all at once. Triumph.

Fast forward to 2010. A contact from the Chamber of Commerce called me and indicated we needed to meet immediately. Both of our schedules were booked solid with meetings, luncheons, and presentations. We both sounded fatigued and stressed as we scanned our Blackberry and Outlook calendars, trying to find any open 2-hour slot in the next few days.

Suddenly an idea came to me. Jeju Spa. The Korean bath house located only minutes from both our homes. Jeju is not your typical American spa. Yes, it has saunas, whirlpools, steam rooms and massage. But it also has wifi, CNN on plasmas, and computer work stations tucked quietly behind gigantic saunas Jeju refers to as “igloos.”

“Can you meet me at Jeju tomorrow morning? I have a window of time between kids leaving for school and my first presentation at 11:45am.”

“Perfect. If we meet at 8:30, I can fit in accupressure and still make my 11:00 meeting at the Chamber.”

When I combine relaxing barefoot on a heated marble floor with closing a business deal as the scent of jasmine and sage float in the air… bliss is the only word that comes to mind. The spa is my golf course, and it’s definitely a step up from Chuck E. Cheese.