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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Focus and multitasking

Family life with children can be stressful for a couple of decades of our lifetime’s.

Small children require a great deal of physical effort. Teenagers tap into the failing cerebral skills of their parents. Financial woes both great and small add a layer of pressure to the traditional family.

The stay at home parent often seeks instant relief from duty, the moment the other parent crosses the threshold. There is so much competition for time and attention that often we fail to cut the other half a little slack. Both parties believe that they give 110% to the relationship.

Or maybe that’s just around here?

We attempt a conversation in the kitchen whilst one child mimics a cat around his ankles and the other is determined to reach the ceiling via a shoulder carry.

I clatter and cook.

“What is all this stuff anyway?”
“Just a bit of shopping. I’ve not had a moment to put it away. Don’t look at it, just push it to the back of the counter so that I can start supper.”
“What are these?”
“Oh just picture frames.”
“I can see they’re picture frames. Why are there 8 of them?”
“Because they were going cheap.”
“Well I thought they’d be nice in the family room.”
“The family room is already plastered with all their……er…….art.” He wobbles a bit with his unwieldy load.
“Exactly what?”

“Well now it’s summer and the fans are on, all that flapping paper is driving me batty. Bits of it keep falling off and fluttering about the place. I must have used a whole roll of seleotape sticking it all back up again.”


“So I thought I’d pick 8 of the best ones and pop them into frames after I’ve decorated.”


“Yes I’m going to paint the walls. Have you seen the tide marks?”
“You can’t see the tide marks because of all the art.”
Our youngest son meows, plaintively.
“So you’re going to paint the walls.”
“Yes. Freshen it up a bit.”
“Have you any idea how much that will cost?”
“No, I’ll do it myself, cheap labour.”
“So why didn’t you go and buy paint, brushes, drop clothes, masking tape, all the things you need to paint?”
“I’ll make a list. Anyway I can get those any time. It’s a question of doing everything in the right order.”
He staggers about the kitchen a bit, trying to maintain balance and focus.
“Right. So really you should buy the frames last.”
“Oh no. Careful don’t tread on him!”
He shifts his weight and shuffles as the top guy makes another lurch towards the ceiling.
“Because after I’ve decorated and go out to buy 8 picture frames I can guarantee you that I won’t be able to find 8 all the same.”
“8 cheap ones that are all the same?”
“But this one’s got a chip.”
“Hardly noticeable. I did say they were cheap.”
“Maybe you could tackle something less ambitious?”
“Such as?”
“All the other projects that you started and never quite got around to finishing?”
I resist glare and swallow pout, “hmm.”
“All this because of a little fluttering!”
“It’ll increase the value of the house.”
“Minus the cost of eight holes in the wall.”
“Nothing. When is this evolution going to take place?”
“I’m not sure yet. I need some time when no-one will be in the house. Or a barricade to keep them out.”
Cats spit, but I’m not sure which ones.
“You plan is to make the family room off limits! The one room where we spend 95% of our waking lives!”
“I just need a couple of consecutive child free days.”
“Hmm maybe we can wait approximately 11 years, if we’re lucky?”
“I’ll add barbed wire to the list.”
“It would be cheaper to buy more earplugs.”
“Ear plugs?”
“Save you from having to hear all that annoying fluttering.”
“I’ll add duct tape to the list too!”
“It'll take more than a strategic strip of tape to shut me up.”

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