Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quiet Time? What's That?

“Amber. Stop. You don’t have to follow her when she goes upstairs. She’s old enough to play on her own,” my husband told me firmly after Natalie ran off to play with Tommy in his room.

“She’s only two,” I argued. “What if a bunch of toys fall on top of her and suffocate her?”

Tom sighed. He’s used to my paranoid ways. When the kids were babies I was the mother who would tiptoe in and stick a finger under their noses to make sure they were still breathing.

“She’ll be fine,” Tom promised me.

I tried to sit back on the couch and concentrate on NYC Prep , the show I had on my DVR and never got around to watching. But it was hard to focus on a bunch of rich kids traipsing around New York. Where were their parents?

“What if Tommy gets too rough with her and sits on her head or something?” I spoke up. I suddenly pictured my seven-year-old plopping on Natalie’s tiny face and cutting off her air. I know. The weirdest things pop in my head sometimes.

Tom gave me his famous have-you-lost-you-everloving-mind? look. “You think our competent seven-year-old is going to suddenly have a compulsion to sit on Natalie’s head?”

Well, when he said it like that it sounded ridiculous.

I settled back against the couch. It was weird actually sitting on the couch while watching a show. Usually if I have a program on I have to sit on the floor and play with Natalie while I simultaneously watch the TV. Sitting on the couch during the day was a luxury.

“What the hell are we watching?” Tom wondered. His eyes were squinting at the screen as if trying to make sense of a sixteen-year-old announcing that a $300 jacket was cheap.

“Some show called NYC Prep. I have a bunch of episodes on the DVR that I need to watch,” I explained.

“Well, it’s awful. Can I please switch the channel?” Tom begged. “Shows like this piss me off.”

He especially hates when I watch shows like The Real Housewives of Orange County. I think he gets bitter that he doesn’t own a million dollar yacht.

“No. You’ll switch it to Spongebob. Are you still going to be watching Spongebob when you’re thirty? There comes a time when you have to say goodbye to children’s cartoons, Tom,” I lectured.

“Gee, I don’t know, Amber. When are you going to stop laughing when someone farts?” Tom replied.


(For the record, I’m probably always going to laugh when someone farts.)

“I have to go check on her,” I said, standing up. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. My butt was confused as to why it was comfortable so early in the day so it was restless.

“She’s fine, Amber,” Tom said, reaching for the remote. “I’m sorry, I can’t watch this anymore. There’s a guy on here named PC. Who would name a child PC?”

“Wealthy people, I guess. They always want to give their kids odd names,” I answered before darting up the stairs. I just peeked in Tommy’s room quietly so the kids wouldn’t hear me. Natalie was flipping through Tommy’s books and Tommy was playing with his Transformers. Phew. They were both breathing so that was a plus.

I headed back downstairs and Tom had it on The Military Channel which is almost as bad as Spongebob. He was watching a show where they talked all about tanks.

“I don’t know what to do,” I admitted. Usually I cleaned when Natalie went down for her nap. Perhaps I could clean earlier. But then what would I do while she napped? Write in my novel, I guess. I was at a loss. For seven years my day was usually filled with entertaining children. Tommy never went upstairs to play alone so the fact that Natalie did was a surprise. Tommy has recently started playing in his room. Before that he always wanted to be with me so I rarely got any alone time during the day.

“Read a book. You’re always saying that you wish you had more time to read,” Tom pointed out.

This was true.

“Or you could write your book. You’re always saying that you wish you had more time to write,” Tom added.

This was also true.

I headed for the computer. Usually I’ve been writing my novel at night when everyone has gone to bed. But surely I could write during the day. I pulled up my novel and stared at the screen. I poised my fingers over the keyboard...and strained to hear what the children were doing. Why was it so quiet? That couldn’t be a good thing, right? No good comes from quiet.

“I need to go check on them,” I said and hurried back upstairs.

I peeked in the room again. Natalie was playing with one of her Barbies. Tommy was still playing with his Transformers.

They were fine.

Back downstairs I went. I sat down in front of the computer. Poised my fingers over the keyboard. I was about to write when....


Natalie’s bloodcurdling scream filled the air.

“You see, Tom? You see? She’s too little to be left alone!” I snapped, taking two steps at a time to get to her.

I found Natalie in the bathroom doorway, standing beside this:

Tommy was beside her looking sheepish.

“Brother do!” Natalie tattled. “BROTHER DO!” She reached out and shoved Tommy.

“Hey! Natalie pushed me,” Tommy whined.

“Natalie we don’t push,” I said. “Tommy, did you take Barbie’s leg off?”

Tommy looked at his feet. “I was just playing with it and it broke off...”

“You can’t play rough with toys,” I reminded him, scooping up the Barbie. I looked at Natalie, who was howling beside me. “It’s okay, Natalie. I can fix it.” The howling abruptly stopped.

I managed to snap the Barbie leg back on and handed it to Natalie.

“Tank oo, Mommy,” she said and headed back to Tommy’s room. Tommy followed her in and they started quietly playing again.

Now what?


  1. Aww, they're growing up! I'm sure you'll figure out what to do with the fleeting free time!

  2. It's nice to know I'm not the only paranoid mother in the world. You last post about your husband reminded me of myself too.

  3. I know. It is amazing when they play nicely. Not often, but occasionally I have that as well.

  4. if they are anything like my children, you will know when tommy sits on her head by the blood curdling scream that she lets fly. trust me on this one.

  5. It's hard to sit still when they're awake, I know. And the quiet moments usually do mean that someone is up to no good...lol!

  6. Oh I have to find that show, cuz I'm sure my daughters' friends are on it!

  7. Talk about validation as soon as Natalie let out that blood-curdling scream!!!

    I must say, seeing Barbie all mutilated brought back memories. My brother used to do that!

  8. LOL!!! I think we are the same kind of parent! I do the exact same thing. All of my friends think I'm funny because I am constantly checking on my kids. But seriously...those crazy things you think up(the ones our husbands think are far fetched) really do happen. I wonder if I'll be any better when they are out of the house on their own, or if I'll still be worrying about them then. I think I already know the answer!

  9. I've had a heavenly day with my three but it is rare ... not sure what did it but I wish I could bottle it.

  10. You know, I almost dislike it when my kids actually play quietly together - because it lulls me into a false sense of security. So the next time they're quiet and out of sight, I always think, "Oh, they must be playing," when they're really just making some kind of monumental mess.

  11. Dr. Whispering Writer to the O.R. Dr. Whispering Writer to the O.R.

    I sure hope Tommy never ever watches Toy Story and ... that kid next door named Sid.

  12. LOL I so relate to this post. My Hubby swears I wrecked our oldest child. I stimulated her constantly for the first 3 years of her life. Now that she is 10 she can finally play alone but it took a long.long.time. :)
    We moms, we worry. It's what we do.

  13. Love the Housewives!
    I have lived this very post!

  14. LOL, they're getting bigger Mom... you're definitely going to have some you time now :)

  15. OH, and for the record, I think


    Mom tiptoes into their babies rooms at night to check to make sure they are still breathing.

  16. Once when my eldest was wee my husband came home to me wrapping presents and her playing with a wrapping paper tube. He gave me heck for like 20 minutes about how the paper tube was dangerous and she was gonna put an eye out.

    Parents worry, that's our job.

    Kids grow up - that's theirs.

  17. Now what!?! Enjoy your moments of peace or have a new baby. ;)

  18. You could get a new pet! That will drive you crazy and consume your free time :)

  19. My son sat on my daughters head once. In his words "Mommy, she bit my nuts". Hasn't happened since.

    I'm just sayin'.

  20. 1.Quiet time for moms can be hell. We simply don't know what to do. our minds (and bums) are confused.

    2.Husbands watch entirely too much military tv and poker. Which is worse than Caillou or Max/Ruby bunny torment.

    3.You will have an awesome book someday.

  21. Thank you very much for your comment, Kim! :)

  22. Oh how I remember the days of sitting on heads and in my case Barbie's head torn off.

    I love your writing.

  23. Someone always gets hurt thank god it was Barbie!

  24. My youngest had a marble roll into his mouth off a play table when he was all alone. He got it out but was very shaken from it.

    ... I also do not like to leave my kids alone too long. Especially if they are eating. I just worry too much.

  25. i always worry about the kids playing, especially if they are too quiet. that's when you know trouble is brewing.

    also, i'm a sucker for those cheesy shows on bravo.

  26. Wonderful post! I love it and your blog. As another writer I find it almost impossible to write while the kids are around and they are teens so I feel your pain.

  27. If they are playing nicely, sit down and take a break. Rest assured, it won't last long:O

  28. I was forever checking on my kids when they were little - but they never played together. My daughter could amuse herself for hours in her room. My son? Not so much. It if was quiet in his room either he wasn't in it or it meant trouble!

  29. Oh I love it!!! Aren't siblings wonderful!? And I'm sure she'll remember that forever, haha!

  30. I always get nervous when the house is quiet. As long as I can hear the little man I know he's not getting into too much trouble.

  31. now you pour yourself a drink and put your feet up! cheers!

  32. OMG!! im totally that way with the whole quite thing...sleeping etc....and i am totally into (what i call mindless tv) real housewives of orange co...jon and kate plus 8...16 and pregnant on mtv is a new one of mine....josh gets aggervated but then again he watches alot of family guy...well actually i do to!!

  33. Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!!

    I know I'm going to be a paranoid mom. Reading your thought of toys suffocating her made total sense to me, haha. :)

  34. Reagan had a TOTAL meltdown the first time her Barbie lost a limb. And they make the things so much harder to put back together these days compared to when I was a kid!


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