Look what I can do
August 24, 2009
by Jen Bakken

As a single mother who works fulltime, I try to devote most of my time and attention to my children once I’m home.

However, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes we bring work home with us, need to make phone calls, catch up on household chores, or just take a few minutes to breathe.

I’ll admit that the other day I was pretty preoccupied with things, and hoping the kids would fend for themselves for a little while.

It seemed everywhere I went, my daughter was a little shadow. As I ran about completing each task around our home . . . there she was.

When I went to get the mail . . . she did, too. When I attempted to make a few phone calls . . . she was listening.

No matter where I went, I was followed. Mom couldn’t have even five minutes of time, or 5 feet of space alone.

Finally, I looked at her and asked her if she needed something. At first, she was silent, but then quickly said, “Look what I can do!”

I’m not sure how to describe what she did, but her head was quickly thrown back (kind of like Snoopy’s head when he dances.)

Next, she jumped, and karate-kicked the air while her arms moved as if she was trying to swim, or possibly fly.

The whole thing lasted only a second, then she looked up at me, waiting for a response. I wasn’t sure what to say, and simply stared back at her for a moment.

“Wow, what was that?” I exclaimed, trying really hard not to laugh.

“That was my new move!” was her reply.

I’m pretty sure that her “new move” wasn’t rehearsed and it was an effort on her part just to get my attention.

It was similar to the funny skit from MadTV when comedian Michael McDonald plays Stuart Larkin, a young boy who announces, “Look what I can do” before he performs a goofy-looking movement.

It’s amazing how children will do almost anything to get mom, dad, or others to pay attention to them, even if we already give them as much of our time as possible.

One of my little ones used to pretend to be hurt to get extra hugs and kisses.

Another quizzes me on baseball trivia, even though I protest and it’s more than clear I won’t know a single answer.

Attention tactics can be very cute when kids are young, but as they get older, it can be a bit on the annoying side – in fact I wonder if they secretly place bets to see who can bother their parents the most.

No matter how crazy it can make me, personally, I prefer the kids trying to irritate me, over them antagonizing each other.

One day, I was following my son in the door, when out of nowhere, he was struck in the face with a big red tomato.


Little sister had been waiting to ambush her brother, tomato in hand. She thought she had the perfect plan . . . except for one thing – she didn’t know mom was going to be walking through the door, too.

The look on her face went from sneaky joy to “oh no” immediately. It’s safe to say that the reaction she got from her brother wasn’t worth the reaction she received from mom.

This was one time she didn’t want my attention, but she sure got it!

I resisted the urge to say to my little tomato-tossing tyrant, “Look what I can do!” before I walked her to her bedroom, told her she was grounded, and shut the door.