What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon
The Information Gap
[p.40]Everybody knows there’s an information explosion going on these Ways. Every time you turn around there’s some more information hanging out on a street corner, whistling an airy tune, and filing its fingernails, just waiting for you to notice it.
My kids come home daily with new information about one subject or another. Not too long ago Alec and I had the following conversation.
ALEC: Do you know how they made root beer in the olden days?
MOM: No. I was absent from class the day they had that lecture.
ALEC: They made it out of beer and roots, Mom. For real.
So, in case you’ve ever wondered about it, that’s how they used to get root beer, and you have my permission to pass this along to all your friends and associates absolutely free of charge.
My kids are full of information about plenty of other things, too, including scorpions, which have now taken the place of dinosaurs as their favorite natural history subject.
Actually, I have to take the blame for this since on our way to Phoenix over spring break I did give them my well-known “Social Dynamics of Scorpion Communities” lecture in which I point out that there are basically two kinds of scorpions—Shark scorpions and Jet scorpions. These guys hang around Arizona all day, insulting each other and making pointed remarks about mothers and so forth, until things heat up enough that they decide to have a rumble in an empty schoolyard. But not until they sing a few songs by Leonard Bernstein first.
The only reason I even mentioned all this to my kids is so that they would think twice about falling in with scorpions on our vacation. They, however, assumed that I am very interested in scorpions and have been sharing the following information with me ever since.
1. WHERE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SCORPION LIVES—at the bottom of Bryce Canyon in Southern Utah.
[p.41]2. HOW TO KILL A SCORPION—hit it on the top of the head.
3. WHAT SCORPIONS LIKE TO EAT—people.
Also the way you tell boy scorpions from girl scorpions is that boy scorpions never stop to ask directions.
Now this is an example of information my kids have which I do not particularly want. There is information, however, which they don’t bother to share with me that I really need. I refer to this phenomenon as the Information Gap.
My latest experience with the Information Gap occurred a few weeks ago. It was a Saturday night, and everybody was in my bedroom. The kids were watching our television, while Ken and I were getting ready to go out. Meanwhile the baby was pulling the telephone off the hook and pretending to talk to George Bush, just like he always does.
There was a knock at the door.
“Can you get that?” I said to Philip.
He didn’t budge because he wanted to see what letter Vanna turned over next.
Reluctantly, Philip did what I asked. I was busy bathing the baby when he returned to watch Wheel of Fortune, and since he didn’t say anything, I assumed it had been a neighbor kid at the door.
Which of course was a seriously stupid assumption to make because when I went downstairs myself five minutes later to check on something, there were two uniformed officers standing in the front room waiting for me. I felt just like I was in an episode of CHIPS.
“Is everything all right here, ma’am?” Erik Estrada asked.
“I—I don’t know,” I stammered. “Is it?”
“We received a 911 call from this address,” Larry Wilcox responded.
“I don’t remember calling,” I said, but then who knew? Maybe I was the character with amnesia.
“Do you have any kids that might have been playing around with the telephone?”
“I do have children, but I know for a fact they were watching Wheel of Fortune,” I answered. “They can’t tear themselves away.”
[p.42]Not even long enough to mention that I have a couple of police officers in my house.
Well, the officers finally figured out that the baby—the baby for petessake—had put in the call, which is apparently something babies all over the Salt Lake Valley do at least once a day, they told me. I apologized profusely and the officers, who were much kinder to us than we deserved, said goodnight.
As I watched them pull away in their squad car, on their way to bust some more babies, I thought to myself that it certainly would have been nice if Philip had informed me that there were a couple of policemen at our door. When I asked why he hadn’t, he looked at me like I’d taken too many scorpion stings in the head and said, “Because, Mom, you didn’t ask.”
Pretty darn silly of me, don’t you agree?