Sound the Alarm: Mommy's on the Phone
The kids can be coloring quietly, sharing crayons, and complimenting each other. When the phone rings, they go crazy. They both want the burnt sienna or cornflower crayon. They try to color the ceiling by throwing the crayons up there. They color like madmen, running around their papers, yelling "ay ay ay ay."
Maybe they see their chance. Since childhood, they've seen mommy smile and be friendly on the phone. They know that I can't smile and read them the riot act at the same time.
Perhaps they find my facial expressions and hand motions amusing.
"We'd love to come over Saturday," I say smiling. Then I give the boys the look and furiously point my finger from one to the other, meaning "break it up," but saying, "What can we bring?"
They laugh. It's fun for them to see mommy communicating like a chimpanzee. Do they think I'll be on the phone forever? When I hang up, they'll learn that they lost T.V. privileges for the day. They don't care. I provide ample entertainment for them as it is.
The miracle is that the phone doesn't even have to ring for them to hear the "go crazy" alarm. J.J. can be napping and the boys playing independently--relocating all their dinosaurs in preparation for a looming pretend flood, and I'm savoring the peace and quiet.
"Hey," I think. "This would be a great time to conduct that phone interview for the home magazine."
I dial the number, remarking to myself how well behaved my children are. I ask for who I need to speak to. I hold.
"Hello. Yes. This is..."
That's it. J.J. wakes up screaming. Richie and Johnny start arguing loudly. They also need my help moving the dinosaurs immediately. The flood is coming right now.
The person I called must think that I saw my children crying and yelling, fearful, of course, of this terrible flood that's coming, and thought, "Now would be a good time to ask an interior designer if wallpaper is making a comeback."
It turns out she wasn't thinking that at all. She didn't even ask if I should call her at a better time. She knew that picking up the phone makes it a bad time.
"I have kids," she said. And yes, wallpaper is making a comeback.