From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

The Sound of Silence

Only a mother knows a mother’s fondness.

Lady MaryWortley Montagu

My daughter has been singing the same song for the last two hours and twenty-four minutes. Or maybe longer.

At first, her singing was adorable. After twenty minutes, it was cute. After an hour . . . I’m hiding in my room with a pillow over my head.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“What are you doin’ in there?” she asks through the closed door.

I’m used to having conversations with my children behind closed doors. Take last night, for instance. Click. (That’s the sound of me shutting the bathroom door.) Five. Four. Three. Two. One. . . .

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“What are you doin’ in there?” my five-year-old yells over the running water.

“I’m taking a bath,” I yell back. “I need some quiet time.”

Jiggle. (That’s the sound of her trying to open the locked door.) “Why?”

“Because I want to.”

“Why?” Maybe if I ignore her she’ll go away.

Jiggle. “Are you still in there?”

“I think your daddy is calling you,” I tell her. Brilliant!

Pitter. Patter. (That’s the sound of her running off.) Ahhhh. Silence at las . . .

Pitter. Patter. Jiggle. “Daddy said he didn’t call me.”

Note to self: Advise Daddy of the diversion technique. “Honey, go play until I get out, okay?”

“Oh-kaaaaaaay.” Pitter. Patter. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. . . .

“Mommy? Can you put Barbie’s dress on her?”

A pink and green mini-dress slides under the bathroom door. This isn’t the first time things have appeared under the doorway. Books, notes, M&Ms—I’ve seen it all. Tonight, though, I hear a noise I haven’t heard before.

Scrape. Half of Barbie’s leg appears, but the rest of her is having a spot of trouble. “She won’t fit!”

There’s huffing. There’s grumbling. Cruuunch.

Barbie’s entire leg makes it under the doorway. Her body, I am sad to say, does not.

“Her leg! Her leg! Barbie’s only got one leg!” my daughter shouts.

Now the Barbie whose arms the dog chewed off won’t feel so awkward, I think to myself.

Sniffle. That’s my cue.

Swaddling myself in a towel, I open the door to my daughter holding a naked, one-legged Barbie in one hand and rubbing her eyes with the other. I guess I’ll have quiet time another day.

But not today. My daughter has been singing the same song for two hours and twenty-five minutes now. And I’m still buried beneath my bed pillow.

Crinkle. (That’s the sound of a note sliding under my closed bedroom door.)

“Wont tu here me seng?” it says in purple. Too cute.

I open the door to her holding a crayon in one hand and a one-legged Barbie in the other.

“Her leg fell off again.” She hands the doll to me and— hardly pausing for breath—skips down the hall, singing “I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas” for the 372nd time.

Quiet time is overrated, I suppose. But maybe not for Barbie. That girl needs all the help she can get.

Mandy Flynn

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