the moment of clarity

One of my favorite things about raising little boys is a little something I like the call the moment of clarity. I don’t know if this is a phenomenon exclusive to my boys, but based on discussions I’ve had with other moms in the park, I suspect not. I don’t have a little girl, so I can’t compare, but I’ve been told they listen better and are faster at reasoning and recognizing.

It’s taken me several years worth of beating my head against a wall to realize it does not matter how many times I tell Jackson if he bounces in the puddles in the Target parking lot he will get his shoes wet, he’s going to jump anyway. He’s going to get his shoes wet. And then he’s going to look at me and go Mommy, my shoes are wet. And I’m going to bite my tongue hard and try not to say I TOLD YOU SO! Because, you know, he’s three. And even though he can quote the entire WALL-E DVD from memory and order a tall mocha frappe with soy milk - hold the whip cream even though he has no idea what that means, the length of his memory for all parental instructions is about two minutes. After that, I’m convinced it resets itself and all previous information is lost.

Case in point: Yesterday we were getting ready to go play at the park and while I was sitting in the floor of the hallway tying Jonathan’s shoes, Jackson, having finished dressing and eager to get in the car, flipped both locks on the garage door and promptly set off the house alarm.

Next thing I knew we were surrounded by the thunderous, high-pitched wailing of the siren. If you’ve ever been close to one of these alarms when it goes off, you know what I’m talking about when I say it is so loud that it is literally painful. Forget needing the police, any thief trying to enter would be struck deaf and dumb, because you really can’t even complete a coherent thought with that many decibels screeching in your ear.

So I quickly dropped the shoe I was holding and went charging down the hall, practically colliding with Jackson as he came flying down the opposite way. There wasn’t any time to stuff cotton in my ears so I braced myself and rounded the corner where the keypad and siren are located. At this point the blaring was so loud that I was lucky to still remember my name, let alone the number sequence to turn it off, but I quickly punched it in and silence was restored to the house. All except that ringing in my ear.

I turn around to find both Jackson and Jonathan standing there, eyes as big as dinner plates, and Jack kept saying something but I was all WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. WAIT A MINUTE, LET ME PUT THIS FUNNEL UP TO MY EAR. Okay, say again.

“Sorry Mommy”

“That’s okay, Buddy. But you know you can’t open the doors unless the light is green.” (pointing at the indicator light on the keypad) “If the light is red, it will set off the alarm.”

Side note: This is a conversation we’ve had dozens of times. Because when Caleb is here I never have to worry about Jackson setting off the alarm. Caleb turns it off each morning when he leaves. But ever since he learned how to flip the door locks, Jackson has managed to set it off at least once during every major Army business trip Caleb has made, aside from the countless occasions I’ve arrived in the nick of time to prevent it.

So after my heart had returned to normal sinus rhythm after its unorthodox defibrillation, we loaded up the car and headed off to the park. Jackson was unusually quiet as we drove down the street, but as I merged onto the Highway he suddenly said “Mommy!!”

“Yes?” I glanced in the rear view mirror and I swear I could almost see one of those energy saving light bulbs go DING! right above his cranium.

“Mommy!” he stated. “When the light is green, I can open the door. But when the light is red, it will set off the alarm!”

“Yes!” I said. “Exactly!”

“If the light is red, I should not open the door!”

“That’s right.”

“Only if the light is green,” he repeated, “then I can go out.”

“Uh huh.”

“Mommy! IshouldwaitforthelighttobegreenbeforeIgooutthedoorsoIwon’tsetoffthe alarm! AndifthelightisredIcan’tgooutthedoorbecauseitwillsetoffthealarm!”



Beware: when the moment of clarity arrives, it can sometimes last all day.