Kids are demanding, impatient, and to them everything is important. They often lack the impulse control to prioritize their needs and think it appropriate to scream at the top of their lungs to convey their concerns. As I am writing this it occurs to me that it is not really just a kid thing, because that description could easily fit several of my bosses and maybe one or two past boyfriends. In any case, in our house we are working on patience and self control to try and deal with our needs rather than acting in inappropriate ways, oh wait that is what I am working on. What I am trying to get the kids to understand is that sometimes in life you have to wait and not everything represents an EMERGENCY.
This morning while I was in the shower I thought I heard screaming and because this is not an unusual occurrence (it is amazing the havoc that can occur during a 4 minute shower) I turned the water off to "diagnose" the scream - was it "I have severed a limb" type screaming or "someone swiped my Transformer" kind of screaming. Today it sounded like pain induced screaming - so I flew out of the shower and ran downstairs soaking wet wearing only a towel. Luckily, I had gotten there in the nick of time to deal with the impending disaster - Mr. 2-year old could not find his Pirate hat. Later, while I was outside watering the Topsy Turvy tomato plants that Mr. 5-year old made me buy after watching an infomercial about them (another blog post entirely), I again heard screaming in the house. I sprinted inside to find Mr. 2-year old on the floor clutching his stomach and crying uncontrollably. I thought appendicitis, stomach ulcer, food poisoning, stab wound, emergency room. When I finally calmed him down enough to understand what he was saying I was able to determine the cause of the screaming - I had inadvertently turned on Dora instead of DIego.
It goes on and on. While I was in the basement standing in front of the washing machine that was filling up with water I thought I heard crying. I turned off the washing machine and from upstairs I heard panic filled sobbing, "Mom, Mom, Mom". I yelled up the stairs, "what's wrong?", no response. I go upstairs to find Mr. 5- year dejectedly crying, I immediately think he has been bullied by the kids next door, scarred for life, self-esteem damaged beyond repair. I bend down and hug him tightly and say, "Buddy what's wrong, let me try and help you." He says, in barely audible words, " I can't tighten my belt enough to keep my light saber from falling out of it." Fabulous, another disaster diverted.
The thing that makes me the most crazy about this tendency to overreact (theirs, not mine silly) is the fact that when there is an actual emergency nobody can be bothered to tell me. Once the toilet upstairs was overflowing, of course no one even brought that to my attention. Another time, Mr. Small Dog was throwing up like something from the Exorcist on the living room carpet - not so much as a peep from anyone.
I have spent an exhaustive amount of time trying to define "blood curdling" scream emergency to the kids (i.e. actual blood, uncontained bodily fluid of any kind including the dog's, difficulty breathing, killer bees, animal attack, fire, flood, home invasion, you get the picture). Not only is this inability to determine what qualifies as an emergency a problem for me; because lets face it I am getting older and I'm not sure how often it is feasible for my heart to stop in one day, but it also makes me concerned about the future. I have this vision of the kids as grown adults on a date in an expensive restaurant doubled up on the floor in hysterics when they learn they are out of prime rib. I am concerned about the number of calls that will be placed to 911 regarding a lack of clean underwear or to report that the cable has gone out. I wonder how their future wives will enjoy being woken up from a sound sleep to the sound of shrieking only to find out that their favorite Survivor has been voted off the island.
I suppose like everything else this is a skill that is acquired over time. Although admittedly I have been known to overact to a situation or two (insert gasp), and sometimes screaming is involved. I guess the really important thing for my kids today and as they grow up is to know without a doubt that I will come running no matter what their "emergency" is.