Woman, Interrupted

I have achieved a phase in my life during which I cannot have an adult conversation in my own home without being interrupted by a small person who feels that whatever they have to say or request is much more important than the conversation I am currently having.

These interruptions typically consist of a long-winded explanation of a recent television commercial for a must-have product (“Have you ever heard of moon sand?”), a veiled attempt to pressure me into purchasing said product (“I think YOU would really like moon sand, Mom”), a random fact about a Guinness world record involving something disgusting (“Did you know the longest fingernails ever were three feet long?”) or a loud request for assistance in the bathroom (“CAN YOU HELP ME WIPE!?”).

My reactions to these interruptions vary based on the level of importance of the conversation I was currently having, my willingness to get involved in an intense discussion on something like moon sand or long dirty fingernails, and how annoyed I am at being interrupted in the first place.

I have tried numerous times (and not just when I am in a state of annoyance) to explain to these small people that the world (including the rapt and undivided attention of their mother) does not revolve around them and interrupting someone without a reason that constitutes an emergency is rude. I have had this conversation multiple times:

“Are you on fire?”

“No.”

“Is someone else near you on fire?”

“No.”

“Are you bleeding or is someone else near you bleeding or otherwise critically injured?”

“No.”

“Then, you can wait ‘til I’m done talking.”

And, yet, they never do.

Sometimes, when I am talking on the phone, they will run into the room and open their mouths to speak and I will quickly put up the universal sign to wait – a pointed index finger into the air. At one point, that probably meant ‘Give me one more minute to finish’, but now, especially when paired with a lip-pursing, eyebrow furrowed glare, means “If you say one more word and interrupt me for the 15th time today about something frivolous and most likely involving an iPad app you want to download, I will make it my mission to destroy your happiness for the rest of the day, up to and including withholding dessert.”

However, even my deepest eyebrow furrow is often no match for that apparently desperate, urgent desire to open one’s mouth and vomit forth a spew of random and arbitrary thoughts designed for immediate satisfaction and acknowledgement. “My wizard just made level six!” “I think my right hand is asleep!” “Is there chocolate on my face?!” “Max just stepped on my foot on purpose!”

Mostly likely, the only permanent solution to my problem is time. I know there will come a day when they won’t come running to me. I won’t be the first person with whom they want to share these immediate and critical issues. Granted, the issues will be different and probably won’t involve moon sand, but I’ll be lucky to hear about them during our bi-weekly phone calls. That they make out of guilt. When they remember. (Cue violins here.)

So, for now, even though I don’t like being interrupted, and even though I will keep trying to teach them how to be more polite about it, I’ll try to remember to keep in mind that what’s important to them should be important to me, too.

Even moon sand.

Related post: 10 Reasons Why I Can’t Come to the Phone

About the writer

Rachael Koenig is an essayist and humorist (which she dares you to say five times fast), deriving most of her inspiration from her two sons, aged nine and four, and step-daughter, aged 12.  Her site, Maxisms, contains personal stories and a collection of precocious, snarky and hilarious conversations between herself and her children. She thinks of herself as more of an essayist than a blogger, because she is old-fashioned and grumpy and out of touch with modern social media vernacular.

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Lizz Schulz 2 years ago

As soon as I get on an important call (even worse the voice activated things) someone gets hurt or starts crying! Every time!:-P

Christa Price 2 years ago

my kids never need me until I get on a call and if its important forget it, my daughter will even sit patently beside me while ear husslin my conversation then as me questions about my call REALLY?!? I love them tho :)

Samantha Taylor Hall 2 years ago

No. It never stops. When they are teenagers the only time they want to talk to you is when you are on the phone or in the bathroom.

Theresa Loscocco 2 years ago

Can’t even talk to my man in the house without a “Can you PLEASE keep it down, I’m talking to your Papa!” Lol

Sophie Thompson 2 years ago

My response? ‘Are you going to die in the next 5 minutes?’, no? Well go away then. lol

Helen Russo 2 years ago

my mother informed me one of my cousins said I was mean to mine while on the phone with her (my cousin). I laughed, so now disciplining/teaching a child to not interrupt a phone call is mean?
Said cousin just had her first baby. Just wait, sweetie, just wait; unless you never plan to speak on the phone again.

Helen Russo 2 years ago

seriously!?!?

Queen of Evil 2 years ago

I was trying to have a conversation with my husband last night, and our 5 year old kept interrupting us with things like, “When I was a baby, I wore diapers!” and “Next week, I want chocolate milk!”. I love him, but dammit, stop telling me shit I already know!

    Rachael 2 years ago

    My son is the same way. Any thought that passes through his head comes out of his mouth. (I love your name, by the way!)

Shannon Fleming 2 years ago

I hide…in the bathroom.

Susan Pierson 2 years ago

I get in my car…..lock the doors lol

Faith Ranae Richie 2 years ago

this is why i text everyone

Rebecca Wilber 2 years ago

I have a 20 year old that still interrupts me. It never ends.

Kim Trefz 2 years ago

Nope. And then I hid in another room, and they were calling for me like I ran away to Mars. Thank goodness school starts tomorrow!!

Julia Lane 2 years ago

2 yr old 4 & 9 I don’t know what a phone call is .. lucky if I can get a text out. Let alone in adult conversation lol..

Yas Reid 2 years ago

It’s always an iPad app

Pam Vaughan 2 years ago

It’s not even so much them talking to me while I’m on the phone it’s their loud voices in the background!

Nicole Slaughter 2 years ago

thank God i nipped that in the butt when mine were very little. at 8 and 4, mine KNOW that interrupting a phone call means immediate grounding. no warnings and no second chances.

    Nicole Slaughter 2 years ago

    well, if you would have really read my comment… you would have seen that it has NOTHING to do with being superior and everything to do with being THANKFUL. and if you want to get technical, you started the name calling because your comment was NOT meant to be taken as a compliment. you were being a smartass. and you were being cruel. just calling as i see it.

    Rachel Armour 2 years ago

    Ha! Okay.

Mary Schneider 2 years ago

The funniest part is she thinks it’ll change when her little people aren’t so little… My teens STILL do this to me. Drives me nuts. I just walk out of the room.

Amy Johnson 2 years ago

I just literally had to shush my kids 5 times during a 2 min phone call.

Lee Johnson 2 years ago

No. Mine are 22 & 19 & still unable to recognise the mom-on-the-phone thing!!

Ashley Fuchs 2 years ago

Or a sentence??? I’d settle for a sentence at this point.

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