Maybe, if you’re a parent and reading this, you experience this fairly regularly. Maybe you don’t. I like to think every parent does.
I call it the dissertation.
The dissertation begins when my work day ends and my 2nd (technically 3rd?) job ends . . . my morning is filled with exercising, getting breakfast ready, then getting kids ready and out the door. That is followed by my regular work which takes roughly 8-9 hours (if all goes well) and then I head home. Job 3 begins . . . dinner, checking the kids did homework, all the fingers and toes are intact, etc.
It’s after walking in the door the dissertation begins.
This is when the three children in my house begin to chatter . . . sometimes all at once, sometimes interrupting each other.
I rarely intervene in the dissertation as it is just that . . . an exposition of what’s important and well-thought and planned out information. The problem I often run into is the information overload. My kids use this as the way to blow off the steam, let me know how their day went, explain their mood, what have you. Where I get the gauge going beyond the full peg is when I have had a particularly stressful day.
The thing is you cannot stop the dissertation. You can try to head it off, say “let me get changed” or “let me just get the groceries out of the bag” or better yet “help me get the groceries out of the car.” The problem is the dissertation has begun. The walk to the car will involve the chatter about their day. The muffled, deadened acoustics of the pantry (I should use that as a vocal booth…) are pummeled with the dissertation. When I move up the stairs to remove my work clothes and get on a simple t-shirt and jeans my daughter follows me in, stalling the removal of said clothes as she wants to tell me the “ridiculous thing my friend (insert name here) said today!”
I tried, for at least two years, to stop the dissertation. I tried to inform my children of the problem of their information overload and how I just needed 5 maybe 10 minutes to steel myself for the data transfer.
That was the worst thing I could ever have done.
The stall basically led to faster exposition, mumbled words, yelling about interruption, even coming to blows at times.
I say this not out of malice or anger or disappointment. It’s in understanding. The days I’ve worked late or been out late and the kids go to bed before I get home inevitably lead to one or two of the boys being in my bed by 2 or 3am with a nightmare. My daughter will stay up too late hoping I’ll get home before she goes to bed . . . or more likely, stay up late because I’m not there to force her to stop socially networking with her friends.
The dissertation is a part of every kid’s day. The important, ridiculous, funny, awful, wonderful and engaging things that they had in their day are important to share with their parents. Since I’m the only parent I get the triple dissertation. Even when the boys’ sister tries to be the one to absorb it she has her own dissertation she’s writing in her head.
At the end of the day, though, it’s not their Dad, either.
The dissertation is a lengthy conversation, but it’s an important one.