Scene: My house. Two days ago, mid-morning. Status: The kitchen was a wreck, there was much laundry to be done, the living room carpet was becoming its own rich ecosystem, and there were several emails to answer. Me: Feeling a bit overwhelmed, trying to break these tasks down into bite-sized chunks. Kids: Running around, playing.
Then the magic happened. No, there weren't any furry woodland creatures that came and helped me with my housework. (Dang that Snow White for getting my hopes up!)As I was unloading the dishwasher and emailing, I noticed something. The kids had not come into the kitchen, screamed, cried, or yelled for me in the last ten minutes. I stopped to listen. If I could've, I'm sure I woulda cocked one ear like a puppy. I realized that they were playing happily in the next room. Without being aware of me.
And that's when I went stealth.
If you're a parent, or if you've been a caregiver, you have surely learned the art of making yourself invisible to contented children. At this point in my pregnancy, I am not exactly petite. I am not fleet-footed. But when I realize that I have a chance to work uninterrupted, my stealth capabilities rival the most top-secret military technology. I am the wind. I am a whisper. I am a lampshade. (I needed a third thing--sorry.)
Here are the time-honored, tested rules of parenting stealth.
1. Do not enter the room in which your children are playing. If you have to walk by, do it quickly.
2. Go about your work quietly. If you need to make a phone call, go to the other end of the house. Superfluous noise? Are you insane? What is happening in your kids' room is sacred. It is bigger than you. DO NOT MESS WITH IT.
3. If your kids happen to enter the room you are in, do not make direct eye contact. This says to them, "I am doing something I really need to do--come stop me." They can smell productivity and will act to put a stop to it. Become a piece of furniture. Nothing to see here, kids. Move right along.
4. If they do call your name, don't be so foolish as to answer on the first call. What are you, some kinda rookie? It may be a fleeting thing, forgotten in the next moment. Perhaps they're playing house, and calling each other "mom" and "dad". Wait. Listen. You are the air. You are a shadow.
5. And if all else fails, distract them with chocolate. Give them some leftover Easter candy and then suggest an outdoor picnic for them. Then, run! Run and hide and wait for the sugar rush to hit.
I believe that we all have something valuable to offer the world. This may just be my piece of the puzzle. No, no don't thank me. If what I've shared allows you to answer one more email, do one more load of laundry, or drink a cup of tea in peace, well that's thanks enough.