“This past Christmas, my youngest son gave me a clock, sort of. In the sense that it tells the time, I suppose you could classify it as a clock. But it also tells me all sorts of other stuff. Like what day of the week it is (Tuesday!) or the date (January 12, 2007!). It also sends me little messages (Happy? Happy!).
It tells all this remarkable stuff by means of a little wand that goes back and forth, rabidly wagging its tiny light to magically make letters and words appear. It’s BRILLIANT! Probably because it’s way beyond my aged brain’s capacity to figure out how it works. But it’s also a tad annoying.
Okay, it’s MIGHTY annoying.
But I can’t blame John (the youngest son). We stopped at a neighborhood drugstore to pick up some batteries or nuts or something else absolutely necessary to our survival and there sat the clock, sort of. In all its brilliant, rabidly glowing magnificence.
“Gee,” I said, “that’s BRILLIANT! What a great Christmas gift,” I threw in for good measure.
I say things like that for about two months leading up to December 25th. But no one ever listens to a word I say.
To be honest, listening doesn’t really run in our family. If my daughter had been listening when I yelled “Remember to turn off the water!” we wouldn’t have had to slog through a flood plain in the basement.
If my oldest son had listened when I warned him to “Drive carefully, it’s raining!” he wouldn’t be tooling around town with a smushed-up Accord hood.
But if I’m being perfectly honest, I would have to admit that those little apples didn’t fall far from the tree. I’m not the best listener, either.
One summer day when John (still the youngest son) was just four, he toddled into the kitchen, concern etched on his cherubic face.
“Mommy,” he said sweetly, “there’s a fire outside.”
“Hmmm… Mmmmm,” I said.
In my defense, I was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper.
“Mommy,” he called from the window in the family room, “there’s a fire outside.”
Now I’m slightly peeved. Can’t a person read the paper in PEACE? Let it also be added in my defense, we are talking about a kid who, in the middle of AUGUST, had already put a fire engine on the top of his Christmas list.
So I said, “John, if I put this paper down and come in there, and there’s no fire, somebody’s in big trouble.”
Remember, he’s four. He’s proven before that he is quite capable of lying, cherubic face and all.
“There’s a fire, mommy. Better come quick.”
Wouldn’t you just know it? The yard was on fire, courtesy of the neighborhood Eddie Haskell gang playing with fireworks. By the time the three fire trucks had arrived, the fire was more of a fizzle. Still, John got to sit in a fire truck, all the while telling HIS side of the story. Naturally, I looked like some kind of BAD parent for not listening to my child.
Which brings me back to the clock, sort of. The one time somebody actually listens around here, it turns out to be for this crazy contraption sending messages at 3:45:34 in the morning.
“Take it easy!” it blinks.
“Are you okay?” it asks.
No, I’m not okay. It’s 3:49:57 now.
“Enjoy yourself!” it commands.
I’ll tell you what I’d enjoy…I stumble out of bed and head towards the clock, sort of, when WHAM! My bare toe smashes into the bedpost.
Oops. Sure hope John wasn’t listening.