Slightly-Less-Irritating Interruptions



You know how it goes: you’re just settling down for a nice cup of coffee with a friend, and the conversation is deep and heartfelt and importa–“Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!”


By the time you’ve dealt with the Polly Pocket that fell in the potty, or the hairball that the cat left on the bathmat, your coffee is cold, and you and your friend can’t remember what on earth you were talking about.


I’m pleased to say that this stuff doesn’t happen to me anymore. Yes, I still have children, and I still have the occasional coffee-laced conversation with a friend. But we’ve changed the rules on interrupting.


When our kids were younger, it seemed that no matter how much my husband and I admonished the girls not to interrupt, the problem never went away, or even got better. Then, one night, we were at some friends’ house for supper. After the kids had eaten and were off playing, the adults sat back in our seats at the table and settled into some good, hearty conversation. And then our friends’ little three-year-old girl walked in.


I could see it in her eyes: she had something to say. I frantically tried to memorize what we were all saying, so that we could get back to it after she’d finished her spiel. But there was no need. She walked silently up to the table and placed her cherubic fingers on her mother’s forearm. Her mother happened to be the one that was speaking at that moment, and she didn’t miss a beat. She placed her own hand over her daughter’s (she never even turned to look at her) and left it there while she finished asking me a question. Still, the little girl was silent. Her mother smiled at me, waiting for my response. I stammered my answer, looking back and forth between their faces. As soon as I was finished, my friend said, “Excuse me,” turned to her daughter, and said, “Yes?” Her daughter spoke, the situation was dealt with, and we continued with our conversation. To me, the whole exchange was nothing short of miraculous.


Now that we have been employing this little gem for the past three or four years, I will admit that sometimes even the touch of a little hand can be a bit irritating. But all I have to do is go back in my memory to “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!” and I’m satisfied.


This parenting tip definitely works for me. Click here to see what works for Shannon.




14 thoughts on “Slightly-Less-Irritating Interruptions

  1. I’ve heard of legends of this working, but you’re the first person I’ve “met” who has actually seen it in real life. And it worked for you too!

    I’ll have to take that out of my mental “unrealistic” file and try this.


  2. We always tell them unless there is blood don’t interrupt–well we want to know before it gets to that point, but they’ve gotten better.

    I would have liked to have seen this done this well.


  3. It definitely takes some retraining to implement this little program, but our girls quickly learned that it worked out better for them, too–they don’t get just a corner of our attention (mixed with irritation). They get 100%, they just have to wait a moment for it.

  4. Hey, it’s never too late. Actually, I am thinking I should start this with my husband (meaning: I am a notorious interrupter, so I should gently touch his arm when I have a comment, rather than barging right in!).

    Seriously, our girls were about 5 and 8 when we started this.

  5. I like that by putting her hand over her daughter’s your friend communicated that she heard and understood that her daughter had something to say – she communicated that very important thing without interrupting! Gonna try that! 🙂 Thanks!

  6. This DOES work. I do, however, get awfully tired of tripping over my kids when they follow me around with their little hands when I’m rushing to make supper and am on the phone! 🙂

  7. Pingback: WFMW: Mike Huckabee « for better, for worse, for life

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