My son doesn’t listen.
I know. Right now you are probably thinking, “What child does?” or, “Don’t waste my time, mine either.”
But my middle son is an accomplished ignorer. Allow me to illustrate.
Once I had a 20-minute discussion with him (one of those “fatherly advice” talks) complete with hand gestures and much nodding of the head. After I completed my thought, which I’m sure was important enough to alter his young life forever, I asked him what he thought.
His response: “Do you think sharks can get a sunburn?”
“I don’t believe so.” I responded, irritated. “Are you going to answer my question?”
“Hmm, what were you saying again?”
When he was younger I was legitimately concerned that he had a hearing problem, so I devised a test. I went upstairs in our house and whispered the words “Do you want a cookie?”
“Yes!” was the response that he yelled from 60 feet away.
With a medical cause ruled out, I was forced to accept reality… my son is just really good at screening things out. No, let me rephrase that. The boy is the LeBron James of selective hearing, the Michael Phelps of tuning me out. He’s a best-in-class parental ignorer, and actually it would be kind of admirable…
… if it wasn’t so infuriating.
Now, when it comes down to it, selective hearing is something he can still function with, but the danger of it became clear when he came home from school one day. After my usual questioning about the day in general, I asked him a follow-up about what he learned.
“We learned that sometimes strangers have puppies they let you pet.”
“OK, what else?” I responded, hoping and praying that he listened to the entire stranger presentation.
“Oh, and sometimes they have candy.”
“What else?” I pushed, silently thinking to myself… for the love of all things holy, please tell me you didn’t tune this one out!
“We should never talk to strangers.”
Thank the Lord he listened!
For all of the grief I give him about his “listening ears,” my son truly has a fantastic memory. When tuned in, he picks up an amazing amount of information.
All I have to do is figure out what channel he’s on.
Chris Donnelly is married with four children. You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
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