Friday, April 17, 2009

A Celebration of My Cat-Like Reflexes

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.


  1. Oh, I can't *wait* until my kids become unaware of my presence long enough to let me get something-- ANYTHING-- done. Right now it's a miracle if I am alone when I pee.

  2. This made me laugh--you are the air! You are a shadow!

    My kids have arrived at the wondrous ages where I'll hear Laura ask Hank if he wants to play some game, or even say, "Hey Hank, you wanna watch Spongebob?" Works for me!

  3. I loved your description of your bliss! Take those moments when you can.I love your writing!

  4. I really love that you are the lampshade!!!!

  5. You see, this is where I'm going wrong. I'm not the lampshade - if I were the lampshade my children would leave me alone for 5 seconds! Genius

  6. I too, have gone stealth.
    Do you think we could start our own version on Navy Seals for Mommies?

    The blending in, the accomplish the task without being seen, the do every chore under the cover of night when the kids are in bed, the underwater in the bathtub rescues when you accidentally leave your 5 year old in charge of bathing the 1 year old?

    I think I might be on to something. We just need a cool acronym. Think upon that.

  7. Lampshade, girls! You gotta be the lampshade. :) Seriously, it's only been in the last several months, as they've gotten older that this happens for any length of time. Cassie, I still get followed to the bathroom!

    And Jody--I think you may be on to something. Maybe we should all get tattoos, as well!

  8. "the living room carpet was becoming its own rich ecosystem"

    you rocked this post.

  9. thanks, Sara. :) that was my favorite line too--made more funny by its "sad but true" status.