Atten…TION!

Oct 12 2009

My dad is a former Marine.

There were lots of Marine-isms in our house growing up.

We marched.

We know the Marine Corps Hymn.

We can “sir, yes, SIR” with the best of ’em.

We know the difference between a rifle and a gun.  As in, “This is my rifle. *grab rifle* This is my gun. *grab your boy parts* One is for fighting.  One is for fun.”

And we can salute.  Both ways.

I’m pretty sure my mom’s really excited that I have a blog right now.  (Never think your children will stop embarrassing you.  You’ll just be disappointed.)

Anyway, every now and then my dad would bring us to AH-tehhn-SHUN!  You really have to clip the “shun” off short for it to be authentically Marine.

None of that has anything to do with what I’m about to tell you, other than the word attention.  Of course, it might explain a bit about past posts.

I call Aden, age 7, the Mix Master.  She is supremely gifted at just the right blend of sweetness, charm, manipulation and backhanded compliments.  She leaves the listener wondering, Did she really mean that?  Is she saying what I think she’s saying?  Did she just manage to deliver the perfect insult couched as a compliment so we can’t bust her?

Aden’s a genius.

Lately, she’s been repeating one particular phrase.

“Mom, I love you so, so, so much.  Thanks for paying attention to me.”

Gee, Aden.  I love you, too. At least I know that part of the response.

Am I supposed to respond to the attention comment, though?

I don’t know.

On the one hand, it would probably be a good idea.  A direct response could provide her with new information while being a supportive and sympathetic mommy.

Yes, I know I don’t pay enough attention to you.  Bad news is, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  Good news is, you’re in great company as none of your siblings gets enough attention, either.

Minus the sympathy, I guess.

On the other hand, it may not be the greatest idea to confront this head-on.

I spend an extraordinary amount of time training my kids to ask for what they need.  Part of this is a desire to teach good communication skills, but a bigger part is that I patently suck at subtle communication, so I’m reluctant to positively reinforce it.

To kids who complain, “I’m thirsty,” I say, “That sounds uncomfortable.”  Funny how all five kids know how to procure water now.

To kids who whine, “There are no cups,” I respond, “I wonder how you’ll solve that problem.”  And then they do.

And so, I suppose to kids who say, “Thanks for paying attention to me,” I’ll just say, “You’re welcome.”

Actually, I think Aden and I started this exchange about six weeks ago.

I’d love to tell you how it’s working out, but I haven’t really been paying attention.