This is like, a serious question. I was just washing my face and getting ready for bed in the bathroom with my cat who loves to hang out in the tub anytime he can. (Is this normal? My cats both love to lay in the tub!) When I was done I looked at him, holding the shower curtain back and whispered, “Out!” He made eye contact, acknowledging my presence and the fact that I had spoken to him and then jumped out of the tub and slinked out the door in his slinky cat way. As I walked down the hallway to my bedroom, I couldn’t help but to think that my cat listens to me more than my kids sometimes do. Granted, he is almost 10 and they are only 2 and 3 1/2, but he hasn’t been to school or anything, so he really shouldn’t be all that advanced.
There are different degrees of the lack of listening that my kids are capable of. I’ll break them down for you:
Level 1: Listen, but ignore.
This is frustrating because in this scenario, the child has heard what you have said or requested, but responds letting you know that they do not plan on complying.
Me: “Princess Rapunzel, we need to leave so that Mommy can get to work on time. I need you to put your shoes on.”
PR: “Not now, Mama. I’m watching Imagination Movers and eating my crackers! And I don’t want to go to daycare today!”
Level 2: Listen, but propose an unsatisfactory alternative.
In this situation, the child is most likely trying to see if they can drive you crazy. This can very often follow a Level 1 response.
Me: “PR, you’re not listening to me. I need you to get your shoes on so we can go.”
PR: “Mama! Little Boo’s shoes are right here. She should put her shoes on first.”
Level 3: Attempt a diversion.
Don’t underestimate how sharp children these days really are. In this scenario, they have heard what you have to say, disagree with your request and are now going to use their cuteness against you. Like a weapon.
Me: “PR, I’m late for work. Please get your shoes on. I will take care of LB and her shoes.”
PR: ~Walks right past her shoes and flings herself upon my leg, giving me a giant leg hug, while looking up at me with the most angelic face and says~ “Mama, I love you sooooo much. I love you every day!”
Level 4: Completely ignore.
This is what I consider to be the most grievous level of offense. In Level 4 situations, you get no acknowledgement that you have spoken, that your words were directed at them, or that you actually continue to exist.
Me: “Thank you, PR. I love you so much too! And I want us to have a good day, so can you please help me get everyone ready so we can get out the door?”
PR: ~Runs away and doesn’t respond, displaying no acknowledgement whatsoever to the fact that I am calling her name, as she makes her way to the farthest corner of the kitchen and lays down next to the cat.~
Thankfully I have a cat that listens to me and understands English, so how do you think this story ends? He gets her shoes, puts them on her, brings my bags to the door and wishes us all a fantastic day. Obviously!
*For the sake of all fairness I’d like to point out that while PR is used as an example, LB is still just as capable, if not more, of carrying out all 4 levels of the anti-listening phenomenon.