While they certainly do not listen to everything I say, my sons, 6 and 5 years old, don’t seem to miss anything I do. The same goes for Pam.
We could ask the kids question after question about subjects they are not engaged in and get the bare minimum of responses, only enough to confirm they are not being rude and ignoring us altogether. However, if I walk outside for a minute or go upstairs for something, they are on me in a ridiculously fast fashion no matter what they were up to previously.
Questions that come once they catch up to me usually involve, “what are you doing? Where are you going? Can I come? Can I help? Can you skip that and play soccer?”
These specific decisions to ignore are not lost Pam or me.
Ask either of my kids whether they brushed their teeth yet or put away their book bags and neither will even blink, as if they didn’t hear a word. The fact is they are just not interested in the questions. In some cases, the answers are no to questions and they don’t want to deal with the consequences.
Selective attention spans are a real thing, at least at my house. Pam might even say I have touch of it myself.
Beckett wants to watch football with me so much, but he just does not have the patience yet at 6 years old.
He wants badly to be a sports fan. He knows I follow sports closely and always asks me questions about scores and games. In fact, till about a week ago, he was still asking me each morning if the Orioles won last night and if the Royals “pitchers were still on fire.”
Additionally, on a regular Sunday when we have no major plans and the Ravens play at 1 p.m., I have an agenda. Spend as much time outside with my boys trying to tire them out so I can catch some of the game. My goal is usually to catch the entire second half.
Carson does not have much interest at this point and is usually easily distracted by other things. Beckett, on the other hand, wants to sit with me and watch the game, but he usually only makes it until the first commercial break.
Although his heart may be in it, his interest wanes and his mind wanders to things he finds more fun, such as electronics, flying sidekicks, snacks or books nearby. He usually checks in frequently with me to ask if Joe Flacco hit a homerun or not, He also requests I hold my hand out so he can practice his sparring moves on me.
I learned after a couple times that’s not the best idea when distracted.
Some observations from Thanksgiving dinner at the Bonfire last week:
• The personal trainer in Pam was having a rough time looking at her little boys’ plates. It was nothing but whites and tans — bread rolls, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, turkey, gravy and more rolls. She was able to sneak a few lima beans into Carson’s mashed potatoes, but I’m not sure he was able to find the bottom of his plate because I loaded him up in the hopes he would not need frequent chaperoning back and forth to the buffet line.
• Once Beckett saw the soft serve ice cream machine, it was all over for him. Although he did eventually accept the fact it was not happening, he tried with all his might to persuade us to allow him to eat his meal in reverse, starting with ice cream and heading back the traditional way (except for juice in between each meal).
Surely, he loved the ice cream, but the bigger deal for him was the actual act of getting it himself. By the end of the dinner, he was standing by the machine offering to serve strangers. I led him away after hearing him say to an elderly lady, “Let me help you with this, it can be a little tricky, it takes big muscles to pull this thing down.”
• If ice cream was Beckett’s vice, clearly the donut making machine was Carson’s favorite.
He loves donuts, like everyone I think, but he was fascinated with the entire operation. How it started as batter, came out in a little circle into the fryer and then moved into a drying bin.
Each time we walked by it Carson was fascinated by it and that was clearly his dessert of choice.
• With young kids, the strategy for a buffet has to be altered.
I always get a kick out of the people who pile their first plate full of food at a buffet and then are too stuffed to go back for seconds and try all the other items available.
With our kids this year, I found myself tossing out my normal approach. I knew that every time either Pam or I headed back to the buffet one kid or both would want to tag along. It was natural.
After a couple trips were complicated by the ice cream, donut requests and Beckett’s random questions to strangers about wardrobe and dark meat preferences, I just decided to fill up the plate and camp at the table. Within a minute, the calls for more were coming from the boys, but their intentions were obvious — donuts and ice cream.