Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bossa Mama

The Brazilian style of music "Bossa Nova" can literally be translated into English as "new trend". If you're not familiar with the loungy style made popular in the late 1950's, think "The Girl from Impanema", but a newer trend in the soft, smooth Bossa Nova music is to cover harder, rougher bands. My sister-in-law introduced me to this genre a while back and now I have albums like "Bossa N Roses" and "Bossa N Ramones" in my collection. I love music in the kitchen when I'm cooking and listening to a lounge-lizard version of "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Used to Love Her" just makes me smile.

The first day I had the music in my repertoire, my kids were at the kitchen table for all of five seconds before they identified the Bossa Nova styled lyrics as Guns N' Roses. And five seconds later they were singing along. Astonishing. The songs in Bossa Nova form are almost unrecognizable unless you really pay attention to the lyrics. That would mean that my kids not only heard the music, which through extensive testing I have proven their hearing is quite perfect, but they actually listened, a skill for them I had almost given up on.

If my kids could register the mellow Bossa Nova lyrics, is it possible my kids could listen to me without me yelling? Could I actually get a response from them by just speaking to them, instead of yelling? The yelling in my house has gotten a little out of control. I'm at a point where no one listens to me unless I'm raising my voice, and I often don't bother with a calm voice and skip right to yelling to save time. But maybe its not too late. Maybe I could start a new trend in our house. It would be so much nicer to start the day calmly asking my children to get their shoes and coats on for school. And I wouldn't be hoarse before 9am.

My new mom trend started this week. Monday morning I sweetly called to my 7 year old giving him a warning that we needed to leave for the school bus soon. I followed that up five minutes later with calm speaking voice instructions to get his shoes on. Both times my son acknowledged that he heard me, but he still didn't listen. With two minutes to spare before the bus would be rolling up, I found myself yelling and he finally came running to the door to put his shoes on and grab his bag and coat. As he was tearing down the driveway trying to put his coat on while holding his back-pack, I realized this new trend is not really going to work. In Brazil, "bossa" can also be defined as a natural ability; you can do something with "bossa". I clearly do not have the bossa to herd my children with a calm voice. I'm going to keep trying to reduce my volume, but the fact is, my voice is just background music for them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Well Played

Are personality traits like "forgetfulness" and "lateness" genetic? I'm afraid they are and my oldest son is displaying these characteristics, just like his father. To sum it up: my husband is physically incapable of arriving anywhere on time and when he does get there, he has undoubtedly forgotten at least one thing. My 7 year old is following in his footsteps.

Last Monday I picked my son up from school like I do every Monday so we can get to his tennis lesson on time after school. I waited 10 minutes after the final bell of the day for him to finally show up at the door. He had no explanation for why he was so late other than he had to walk from his classroom and it "took him awhile". It took 10 minutes longer than usual, but for no reason. As a result, we were late for tennis and missed the first 10 minutes of the clinic. When we got home from tennis and I was unpacking his school bag, I discovered he had left his lunch box and thermos at school. I wasn't all that surprised, but I was annoyed.

When my husband came home, I mentioned to him that our 7 year old had "your kind of day" today. I went on to explain that first he was late leaving school which made him late for tennis, and then he also left his lunch box at school and he's not sure where. My husband laughed and asked, "Did you yell at him?" I admitted that I may have, I was annoyed. To which my husband added, "Good, then he had the full experience of one of my days". Touche. Well played.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking Late

I have one true thing that I can't stand about my husband. Just one, but it drives me crazy. He's chronically late. And his lateness makes me late, which drives me further insane. Before I was part of "we", I was always on time. Now we can't ever seem to be anywhere on time and I blame him. For him, five minutes late is "on-time" and is usually cause for celebration. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for me reminding him its time to leave, he would never actually leave. Its become his signature; he's always late.

Its no surprise that my best friend is also notoriously late. I seem to attract late people. My best friend is at least predictable though. I can firmly count on an hour past whatever time she swears she will be there. And I've learned that when she calls me from "Oaks" on her way, she is really just pulling out of her driveway, still a good 20 minutes from the Oaks exit. But, she does always call while I'm waiting for her. In fact, she usually calls several times to let me know while I'm waiting that she's still not there - Thanks. My husband does the same thing to me when I'm waiting for him. His patented move is to call me when he should be arriving to tell me that he hasn't left yet.

But that's the thing. All this mobile technology at our fingertips allows people to no longer really care that they're late. They can always just call or text that there's a delay. We've all done it in those scenarios where the unexpected happens and we're held up. But I think chronically late people take advantage of being able to communicate that they're late. There's no sense of urgency that they are keeping someone waiting. I've never seen my husband or my best friend rush because they were running late. Its more like they are just walking late, and they'll call ahead to let you know that they won't be there on time. Apparently in the minds of tardy people, a text or phone call telling you they are late is as good as being on time.

I read an article recently in The Wall Street Journal, "Sick of This Text: 'Sorry, I'm Late'". I was happy to see that finally someone else identified a problem here. But the article was of little help to people on the waiting end of chronic lateness. According to the article, my husband and my best friend both have "T.E.D." - Time Estimation Disorder. But there's little treatment for this affliction, other than better planning. My husband read the article and recognized that he has this disorder, but has not attempted any of the suggested tips. The article also listed "Coping Strategies" for those of us waiting for late people. Unfortunately, I've already tried most of these strategies. I've lied about the start time and I've also just plain left without my late people. But to no avail, late people just don't see a real reason to try to change. The only "Coping Strategy" left is to just love them, flaws and all. Because they will still walk in whenever they get there. And in the mind of a late person, if they got the message to you on time that they are late, are they really late?