Or, you can do what I did. Which brings me to another very important component of
effective communication, the non-verbal kind. The year was 2011. My oldest daughter was 10. I was on the phone. I was on the phone with someone overseas. I was on the phone with someone overseas from whom I was trying to buy a house. And this someone, overseas, who held the key to my new house, was accusing me of thinking only of myself, of pushing him to “the edge”. He was right. And I needed peace and quiet to do it. My 10-year-old, however, had other plans. She wanted something. I don’t remember what it was. For this story’s sake, let’s say it was a cookie. Definitely not something I would have defined as an “emergency”. She started by holding the cookie up in front of me and motioning like a good little mime, eyes wide, questioning, shaking her head up and down, “yes? I can have it?” Mmmmmmaybe, but I can’t think about it right now. So I press my index finger to my lips – “shhhhhh” – and I smile, probably patted her on the shoulder, giving her a wink. She presses on, holding the cookie closer to my face, and still without a peep, exaggerates her lips to enunciate her question, “can I have a cookie?” I hold up that same index finger, “wait just one minute”. With further emphasis (and to her credit, muteness) she says, “pleeeeeeeaaaaasssseeee?” I shake my head no and turn my back to her. I am losing my grip with the sleazy seller. Focus. Aaaaand there she is again – she circled around in front of me -pleading, begging, contorting. Ugh! She is definitely not getting that cookie. No cookie. Ever! I fling my arm towards the door of the kitchen, pointing that same index finger, as I emphatically mouth the word, “GO!” Again, I spin around showing her my back. But this time I also walk over to the window so she has no room to squeeze in front of me. Clever mommy. Ok, where was I? I take a deep breath in, and . . . dropping down in front of my face as if dangling from a fishing rod is . . . the goddamn cookie!!! I whipped around and found my index finger now making not only the “get out” motion towards the door, but also the throat slashing “cut the scene” sign. She does not budge. Exasperated and having employed all other silent gestures I can think of, I give her the finger. Not the index finger that shushed. Not the one that begged for one more minute. Not the one that pointed towards the door, or the one that urged her to cut the um, scene. I gave her THE finger. What? Is that not what were you expecting?
Now, I know what’s on your mind, and yes, she did leave the room. Thanks for asking. My daughter is now 12 and has no recollection of my flipping her the bird. She also doesn’t interrupt me on the phone anymore.