No one listens to me.
I kind of know how my own Mama feels.
“Do you ever feel like people don’t listen to you?” Mama asked me one day.
“What?” was my response.
She sighed, proving that giving birth doesn’t obligate one to listen.
“No one listens to me,” she repeated. “I tell people things, and they just look at me like I am speaking a foreign language. Does that ever happen to you?”
Of course it happens to me.
I am a parent myself and I am married. I have two people right in front of me who think what I say is crazy talk.
“What are you telling them they aren’t listening to?” I asked.
“All kinds of things,” she said. “But they always think I am wrong.”
Again, I know how she feels.
I have told Cole to do – or more specifically, not do – something and he will do it anyway.
“Did you hear me when I told you not to do that?” I will ask him.
“Yes,” he will say, upset. “But I thought it would turn out differently.”
“How did you think it would turn out exactly?”
“The way I wanted it to.”
My husband is just as bad at not listening. I can’t tell you how many times I have told him something and he’ll completely disregard my warning. Like when I clean out the fridge and put leftovers in the trash.
“You need to take the trash out,” I will tell him.
“I will,” he will say, annoyed at my request. He forgets, we go somewhere and come home to three guilty looking girls and a floor littered with what looks like a small landfill exploded.
“I bet that makes you want to say ‘I told you so,'” I told her.
It did. She loves to say it, too. She has a roundabout way of doing it, with her, “Well, I am not one to say this but if I were, I would be saying ‘I told you so’ about right now…”
She has a dance that goes with it that is even more annoying but she hasn’t broke either one of them out in a while.
Probably because she hasn’t had the opportunity to do so lately; if she is right, about anything, I am taking it with me to the grave.
“You know what’s worse, Mama?”
She couldn’t imagine. My mother has been on a soapbox for as long as I can remember, spouting off her outrage at injustices and unfairness, promoting what she feels is everyone’s inalienable rights, even when it is something as trivial as to which way the toilet paper needs to hang, so she found it hard to believe there was something worse than someone not listening.
“When someone asks you for advice and then doesn’t take it.”
“Who does that?” she shrieked.
To Mama’s horrors, I told her about people who were always sharing their issues and complaints, their problems, and when given sound, logical advice chose to forego it and not listen.
“That would really tick me off,” Mama said. “If someone asked me what to do and then didn’t listen to my advice that would really make me mad.”
Of course, she has pretty much stayed mad at me since I was four for that very reason, but she wasn’t thinking about this fact and I wasn’t going to bring it up.
“How do we get people to listen to us?” Mama wanted to know.
Good question, I thought.
Cole even admits he doesn’t listen and defends his right to do so.
Once, another student stole Cole’s $5 bill out of Cole’s desk at school.
Cole got his money back, but when the principal was asking him about the money, Cole admitted he had put it in his pocket and forgot to take it out.
“Mama told me to, but I didn’t listen to her,” he told the principal sincerely. “I should have listened.”
“Oh, but you’ll know to listen next time,” she replied.
“I doubt it. I probably won’t then, either,” was his honest reply.
He has even told me, “I sometimes occasionally listen to you, but not every day and not always and only halfway.”
At least I know someone is listening, even if the consistency is sporadic.
“You don’t listen to Nennie,” he said, looking up from his Minecraft game. “So don’t go judging me for doing the same thing you do.”
True, young grasshopper, I thought.
When Mama told me something, even when she was meaning to be helpful, it was irritating, condescending, pandering, as if I was too foolish to know what to do. Her frantic calls and text messages urging me, “It’s raining – don’t leave the house,” or, one that really annoys me is her, “Supposed to be really cold tonight – make sure you’re warm.”
Why that annoys me, I don’t know, but it makes me want to run around in freezing rain barefoot while wearing shorts and a tank top.
Maybe it is some sort of inner child raging and rebelling in all of us – resenting when someone is just meaning to help.
I was considering all this until I heard a crash. I had just told Cole not to leave his plate balanced on the arm of the couch, and what happened?
I sighed and got the dustpan and broom.
If only they’d listen.
But none of us ever do.