My 6-year-old rolls around the carpet of my floor while I try to squeeze in my half hour on the elliptical and try to finish up an episode of Girls, which is now on pause because of the rolling child who is supposed to be out front with my husband and his brothers dealing with the snow.
"What's the matter?" I ask, each word a small puff of exertion.
His head is somehow underneath his behind and he mutters something I can't make out.
"I don't understand what you're saying when you're upside down and talking to your butt."
That gets him all silly. "Hi butt!" He says, "How ya doing?"
I wait for the ridiculous to work itself out so I can find out the actual problem and get back to my show.
Finally, he sits up and the frustration bursts out in a gush, "I wanted to shovel, but daddy said I can't and he let everyone else!"
Apparently it is serious.
"Did you ask daddy if you could shovel too?" I ask.
"YES!" He exclaims completely exasperated.
There must be more to the story but I work with what I've got, "Well, maybe there aren't enough shovels. Did you ask to take turns?"
There is no way he did this.
"He wants me to brush off the car," he complains. "I don't want to brush!"
"That can be fun!" I say, "Why don't you try for a little and then switch with one of your brothers."
"I don't want to brush off the car. I want to shovel!"
I've got about 12 minutes more on this machine and I have exhausted my diplomacy skills. I can see that without physically going outside, my child will continue whining and waiting for my help. That's when I stop trying to solve his problem and focus on a few of my own.
"Well, I know you haven't brushed your teeth yet. Please go do that."
He looks at me horrified. That's not why he came to see me. He wanted retribution not a chore.
But that's what I do to my children. Sometimes it happens right at the beginning and sometimes it closes out the conversation, but ultimately I seem to turn every interaction into a nag.
Imagine you're contently sitting on the chair watching your favorite episode of Austin and Alley.
I'll interrupt, "Don't you have homework to do?"
Maybe you just finished your lunch.
I'll remind, "Don't forget to put your dish in the sink."
You innocently walk into the kitchen for a hug.
I'll note afterwards, "Gee, looks like the recyclables haven't been done for a while."
You're happily brandishing a large bag of gummies from the candy store
I'll scold, "You haven't eaten dinner yet."
You're so excited that Daddy said you can watch a movie.
I'll look at the clock, shake my head and tsk, "Sorry guys, it's late and there's school tomorrow."
I'm the bearer of bad news; the annoying voice that always interrupts their games, their fun, their relaxation. I'm Debbie downer. I'm the waa waa waa. I'm... I'm the annoying mom!
So be it.
At least I've maneuvered some time on my elliptical and my kid has clean teeth. Now get outta here. Don't you have some work you should be doing? And comb your hair.
Clock's a ticking.
This essay can originally be found on Icescreammama.com