I keep threatening to take my boys to the doctor to have their hearing checked. They don’t seem to hear me when I tell them to shut off their iPads, clean their rooms or get ready for bed. Unfortunately, this is an empty threat and they know it because we all know what’s really going on … selective hearing. I don’t have girls so I can’t be sure, but I think this may be another male-specific genetic condition, like male pattern blindness (you can read my post about it here) and outdoor urinating.
My grandpa was hard of hearing. I believe that’s the clinical term for I’m not listening to you so I’ll pretend that I can’t hear you. His condition seemed to flare up most when my grandma asked him to do (or not do) something. Many women I know say that they, too, experience this male phenomenon with their sons and their husbands alike. Requests go unanswered and instructions are ignored. Can they really not hear us?
One of our mom super powers is bionic hearing. We hear everything from our baby’s cry in the middle of the night to our tween/teen’s mumbled words under his/her breath. We are so in-tune with our children’s sounds that we are able to detect their voices over running water, through bathroom doors and in a car full of loud kids.
So why can’t the boys and men hear us? Is it selective hearing or selective listening? I have my own theories …
Selective hearing happens when my boys are otherwise engaged and can’t multi-task to continue what they’re doing and hear me at the same time. They are so involved in their game/show/activity that they simply have no idea what’s going on around them. I could tell them that the house is burning down and they wouldn’t hear me. It is probably involuntary, but nonetheless annoying.
Selective listening happens when my boys choose not to hear me because they don’t like what I’m saying/telling/asking. They don’t want to hear it so they act like they can’t hear it. This seems more voluntary and it pisses me off.
What’s my response? Some call it yelling … I prefer motivational speaking for the hearing impaired.
Ok, so I know yelling isn’t the right way to react. As I stated in my very first blog post at the beginning of the year, I’m working on this. After speaking with some other frustrated moms, I’ve come up with a few techniques that I’m going to try …
- Use trigger words. One friend interjects the words beer, golf and sex into conversations with her husband to get his attention. Obviously, these are not appropriate trigger words to use with an 11- and 8-year-old, so I have to find the kid-friendly equivalent. I’m thinking ice cream, movie night and basketball (football and lacrosse would work too).
- Blast music. They may be able to tune out the sound of my voice, but it’ll be hard not to at least look up when I’m blasting “Fancy” or “Rude” and singing along. Better yet, I’ll go old school on them with something from the Beastie Boys or Run D.M.C.
- Do squats and push-ups. When they are still not listening, I need to get better at staying calm. Problem is, I never seem to remember that “take 10 deep breaths” trick, so I’m going with exercise. It makes me happy and calm … and at the very least, it will tone my thighs and chest.
- Bang the Dammit Doll. Sometimes you’ve just got to hit something, but hitting your kids is illegal and wrong. My doll is a good stand-in (thanks, D!). She gets more action than a co-ed on Spring Break — thank goodness her seams are strong. [Don’t know what a Dammit Doll is? Click here.]
It’s too early to tell which of these techniques will work best, but I’m optimistic that I’m on the right path. Hopefully, if I become a better communicator, my boys will become better listeners. If not, I hear kids’ hearing aids come in cool colors now.