if on phone, then bad parent

After completely biased and unscientific research, I have come to the conclusion that the maximum amount of time my children can survive when I am on the phone is exactly one hour. I’m not talking about normal, unexpected calls. Normal phone call survival time is actually much, much lower. I am talking about expected phone calls for which I have filled sippy cups, put out snacks, turned on a dvd, taken the youngest potty, assigned a younger child to each of the older children, locked the doors and hidden myself in a bedroom closet. Apparently, as the clock approaches sixty minutes, little timers go off in my children’s heads and they instantly neeeeed me for something.

First, the 7-y-o comes in the room and stares at me. I point at the phone and she nods her head in understanding. She leaves and I try to pretend I know what the other person on the phone just said. A few minutes later, the oldest child, the one who should know better, walks in the room and starts mouthing something. I try the point at the phone trick and the eldest just continues talking with his mute button pushed. I stare and get the theme of what he’s trying to communicate. I put my hand over the phone and quickly answer him while pointing at the door to exit the room. I don’t even attempt to understand what I’ve missed on the phone conversation. I guiltily ask the innocent person on the phone to repeat themselves.

Before I am relaxed from the lip-reading interruption, the 7-y-o returns. She sits down happily beside me and hums as she amuses herself with a notepad and crayons. I smile and rub her head even though she hates it. Then, the 4-y-o enters with his mouth on fast forward. “Oh, there you are Amy. Let’s jump on the bed. What you drawing? Mommy, Noah won’t let me play Lego Star Wars.” I poke one finger in my ear and try to focus on the phone call. The 13-y-o enters the room, looking annoyed. I point from the 4-y-o to the doorway repeatedly while 13-y-o tilts his head and silently mouths, “What?” Without looking up, the 7-y-o interprets for me. “Mom says to get Evan out of here.” Noah scoops up Evan and takes him elsewhere. Evan screams indignantly the entire journey.

My nerves are now on top of my skin. Then, the notes begin. The 7-y-o has spent this entire time composing one sentence notes for me. She hands them to me one at a time and as soon as I nod my head, she gives me another note. If I wait too long to nod, she just keeps handing me notes anyway. In the middle of the blizzard of notes, the 16-y-o enters the room with an evil look on her face. She points at the 7-y-o and then at the door. The 7-y-o wraps her arms around me like a vise and her older sister repeats the “get out of this room” gesture until I wave her off. By this point, the conversation is either finished OR the person on the other end has given up trying to compete with the show at my house.

The next time we buy an animated dvd (it will be Up), I think I’ll reserve it for watching ONLY when mom is using the phone. Either that or I’m going to buy a lock and soundproof tiles for the bedroom where I hide to talk on the phone.

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