Long ago, when I was a teenager, I had a dream that my ex-boyfriend had written me a love letter from Venezuela, and when I woke up, I ran out to the mailbox to find, lo and behold: a letter from my Venezuelan ex-boyfriend.
If that’s not scientific evidence of psychic powers, I don’t know what is.
Sadly, I’ve never had any control over when my powers manifested themselves. I have noticed, however, that since I’ve become a mother, my power to predict the future has become more prominent. And in discussing the topic with my mom friends, I’ve learned I’m not the only one. It turns out all moms have at least some ability to predict the future.
One day, as my family was sitting at the table enjoying a typically raucous dinner, I noticed that Lucas (age 6) was bobbing and weaving slightly more than usual. He bounced excitedly, half-in, half-out of his seat, like a squirrel who has just remembered where he hid all his nuts. And he was holding a drink in his hand.
I got that yucky feeling: “He’s totally gonna spill his drink.”
I thought to myself, “I must do something to stop it.”
“Lucas,” I said, “You are going to spill your drink. Stop bouncing around and be careful.”
There. Annoying unnecessary drink-spill averted.
He spilled his drink in epic splatter-across-the-entire-table totality, about thirty seconds after I told him he was going to do it.
Though I’m not proud to admit it, I am the type of person who says “I told you so.” I do this, not only because I’m a terrible annoying nag, but also because IT IS NECESSARY. Someone needs to call attention to the ignored brilliance so frequently dispensed from my lips. Otherwise, how are we supposed to grow and learn as a family? If everyone would simply acknowledge my wisdom in all things, via my repeated utterings of “didn’t I just f***ing say that would happen?” then we might eventually come to a place where I don’t have to say “I told you so.” Everyone would just listen the first time. Probably.
I will never give up the fight.
So I pulled the whole “I told you so” routine on Lucas and sent him to time-out (after making him clean up his mess), with the qualification that “You are not going to time-out because you spilled your drink. You are going to time-out because I told you you were going to spill your drink and to be careful, and you ignored me and spilled your drink anyway.”
I’m pretty confident that was awesome parenting.
While Lucas was in time-out, my husband (who is an engineer - practically a scientist) pointed out that I do indeed have the ability to predict the future. He also correctly observed that we had almost-scientifically answered that age-old question: “If it were possible to predict the future, would that mean you could change it?” And the answer, un-motherf***ing-fortunately, is: No. Even if you’ve glimpsed the future, you can’t change it.
So all of us moms have this totally awesome talent of predicting the future, but it’s completely useless to us. Knowing what is about to happen (and the pathetic, futile attempt to prevent it) only creates unnecessary anxiety leading up to the inevitable. Moreover, my family’s unintentional experiment seems only to have highlighted the awful, horrifying prospect that trying to prevent a foreseen outcome is the VERY THING that brings about that outcome. I’m pretty sure that when I warned Lucas about his wild bouncing, it only distracted him from the knowledge that he was holding a drink in his hand, thereby increasing the likelihood that he would spill it.
So maybe next time I see my kid slopping his drink all over the place, the best thing to do to avoid a mess is to just stay quiet.
Uh, yeah… that is so not going to happen.
And I want a new super power; this one sucks.