Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Alternative Methods of Communication

In an effort to better serve my audience, because verbal instructions, advice, and threats don’t always work the way I’d like them to, I’ve been toying with the idea of using something I know a little bit about – the written word – to communicate with my kids, and what the heck, my husband. After all, I’ve written letters to the editor of the local paper when I’ve had a problem with the schools, or the city council or the local liquor store (shortening store hours on Sunday? Really? Don’t they understand that Sunday afternoons are immediately followed my Monday mornings?) I’ve always received positive responses from people around town after my letters appear. With this in mind, maybe all these years I’ve been overlooking the most effective way to get my point across to my own people: in writing.

To be honest, I’ve already ventured into this area and it went well. I recently wrote each of our four kids a letter, personalized for their particular stamp on this world, and delivered the letters the night before school started. I just wanted to tell all the children that I’m rooting for them, what with all four in various stages of junior high school this year, and hoping the transition from a busy summer to the agony of sitting in a classroom all day goes smoothly. The result was even better than I had anticipated: two sweet hugs, one bear hug, and one hug accompanied by a handwritten thank you note! 

I’ve decided to really go for it: my first full-length project for my family will be a book. Just in case you’re wondering, you don’t have to be Mitch Albom to write a poignant memoir about a special person, or a special day of the week. With this in mind, I plan to get busy writing Tuesdays with My Foot Up Your Ass as a way of communicating to my kids the importance of, well, just about everything I say. This, in an effort to avoid the kids sitting at my bedside someday, just like Mitch sat at Morrie’s, week in and week out, only I’ll be strapped to mine in a padded cell.

The book will cover a lot of territory. Here’s a sampling of just a few chapters I’ve already begun working on for my kids:

  • If You Don’t Feed Clothes to the Monster in Your Closet, He’ll Eat You!
  • Your Mess, Your Problem
  • Vocal Chords: I Will Remove Yours

Of course, the most important chapter will be, “You Don’t Know How Good You’ve Got It”.

In it, I’ll explain the finer points of living in a house where the most technologically advanced electronic device was a light switch. The house had one TV that received exactly three channels, and it would have been tuned to a kids show exactly never if an adult was home. And there always seemed to be an adult home. Making us play outside for hours and hours at a time. Telling us to get off the phone….the one phone that hung on the wall of the kitchen, which was not in view of the TV in the living room. Not that it would have mattered…

In this chapter, I’d also spend a little time on the topic of alternatives. For example, the alternative to playing outside on a hot day was playing outside on a hot day. The alternative to the food on your plate was no food, period. Let’s not forget talking back. Back in the day, before the authors of parenting books invented “1….2….3…..(insert consequence),” talking back resulted in anything from a glare to a swift smack upside the head, depending on the task at hand, or the distance between the smart mouth and said hand.

My book will have chapters dedicated to my husband, but these will be briefer, because he’s awesome, and because if I ramble on too long, he tends to glaze over, and then we have to start all over tomorrow. His chapters include:

  • How Wiping Kitchen Counters Improves Your Sex Life
  • Putting Things Back for Dummies
  • Football – Whatever
  • This is Me Rolling My Eyes at You (a kitchen-sink chapter for anything not covered elsewhere.)

 Just to give my kids a treat, and feed their addiction to screens, I’ll create a website when I’m finished with the book. This will give me a “real time” venue to keep them updated with important announcements (“The next person to ask me a question will regret it”), and late-breaking news (“Grandparents en route! Remove all visible DNA from the bathroom counter, floor and toilets STAT!”)

To make sure it grabs my kids’ attention, and in the interest of full disclosure should an innocent viewer stumble upon, the first thing they will see on the home page is a meowing kitten and a blinking puppy, with this text underneath:

“Welcome to the Lucke-Eagye Family Website.”

Then, the puppy and kitten will fade out, and a skull and crossbones will fade in, along with a quote by the original parenting expert, Dante:

 “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

In addition to news alerts, the website will be full of lighthearted anecdotes, like the one my stepdaughter hurled over the wall the other day, out of nowhere, during a commercial break from Say Yes to the Dress. You know the show….all about women, with commercials aimed at women….

“Lisa, what’s feminine odor?”

I snuck a peripheral peek at my other daughter, who was in the room reading. Her face froze as she ever-so-slightly pulled her book even closer to her face, as if she was reading Braille with the tip of her nose. So, I knew she was listening.

I gave the little inquisitor the five second answer, which I shall not share here, but that must have been satisfactory, since she turned her attention back to the TV and away from me. Then, I split.
Note to self: never watch chick shows with the daughters again. Or, better yet, tell husband the girls are dying to watch an episode of Say Yes to the Dress with him, just cuz. Film the interaction during the commercials. Upload to Facebook. Mwahahahahahaha.

With a website, I can have a Q & A forum, where my kids can pose those awkward questions and I can give them the straight story without them getting embarrassed, or knowing the number of beers it took me to get through it.

The family website will be chock-full of little gems like this, not to mention a few choice images, and maybe some video. I’ve always wanted to secretly film them at their worst and play it back to them. My plan is to catch them arguing as a way of illustrating how stupid they sound. That’s right, I used the S word. If there is any other way to describe the sight of two kids arguing loudly over which one will hold the poop bucket and which will shovel, I would like to know what it is. I think filming them is a perfect way to get them to see how ridiculous their arguments are. Then again, it could backfire, which would be a bad thing. Like an evil déjà vu, I’d have to experience the idiotic moments again and again:

“See, I told you that you were looking at me during breakfast last Tuesday. Look, the angle of your head is directly pointing right at me!”

“No it isn’t! I was looking OVER your SHOULDER, out the window at the BACKYARD!! Rewind – wait – pause it right there! See, I’m looking toward the dog out on the back lawn!”

“That’s not the dog, that’s a deer!”

“No it isn’t! Rewind!”

The video may require some heavy editing. Especially if the camera is rolling when I sneak into the kitchen during dinner and long-neck the last of the Zinfandel while the kids are trying to decide who should put the milk away, the first person to touch it or the last person to use it.

Overall, I think wading into a new method of communication can improve almost any household’s ability to understand one another. With the written word, a person has time to think! There’s no pressure of an immediate, verbal response, or the kids witnessing my skull splitting in two. After all, we leave notes for each other all the time for silly little things, like “I fed the dog,” or “Your mother called, again,” or “I am not upstairs working in my room with the door closed so don’t bother checking.”

Isn’t it about time we started writing down the important things?