As a parent of small children, my life is primarily occupied with finding ways to ignore the kids. Sometimes, I can distract them with a movie. Other times, I can bust out the coloring book. When all else fails, I throw an iPad at them.
Yet they always wait for an opening. If I let my guard down for a single second, the radar antennae in their heads start vibrating, and they rise like zombies, and shuffle towards me. And they speak.
THEM: I want juice.
ME: You just had juice.
THEM: I want milk.
THEM: I want Fruit Loops
ME: It's midnight. Why are you still up?
I described my insight - that my life is about creatively ignoring my children - to my mother not too long ago. She didn't speak for a moment, then nodded her head.
"You always wanted a hug," she told me. "Especially if I was busy with something else. You tugged and tugged at my sleeves and told me to hug you."
"Did it work?" I asked.
"Of course," she shrugged. "But that was before DVD players. The only way we could distract you was to give in. Or send you to your room to play. We did that a lot, too, when you wouldn't leave us alone."
"My room was in the basement," I remembered. "I was scared to death to go to my room."
"We told you there were monsters down there," she admitted. "We also punished you by sending you down there alone."
Our conversation saddened me. We live in a different age. Back then, when they had enough of me, they sent me to my room in the basement. Not to the tv. Not to the iPad. But to the basement, where I crouched on my bed, under the blankets, and trembled with fear. We don't do things like that today. We don't have a basement.
But, oh, if we did ...