Thoroughly Modern Mammy Maria discusses her daughter's selective hearing - and sometimes, bribery really is the answer.

“One word from me, and they do what they want.”

I’ve often heard my own Daddy say this, but I never really understood it until I had my own minions. Selective Hearing he calls it.

It’s a skill I tell you.

The ability of Mini-Me to completely ignore me and carry on about her business is astounding.  It’s pretty impressive if I’m honest.

Do you remember when you were told to ignore the mean girls in the playground or on the bus?

“Just pretend you don’t hear them” we were told.  “Ignore them”.  And yet it was never that easy was it?  Of course you heard them.  Obviously you did. Because you couldn’t just NOT hear their voices could you?

No.  That is a skill that is reserved for the Minions of the world.

Phrases that she ignores on a daily basis are:

“Let’s go Darling.” 

“It’s time to leave pet.”

“Can you lift your toys please?”

“Get me a plate please.”

“Can you put on your shoes?”


No Reaction.


She can ACTUALLY carry on about her business without flinching.  I truly don’t think she can hear me.   It’s like my voice is a frequency that floats above her little head, with only little snippets or words being recognised… For a few months when she was 3, I GENUINELY thought she had hearing problems.

I was convinced that there was something wrong with her ears because there was NO way that my little Darling could possibly be choosing to ignore me, was there?

I mentioned this to my Dad one day as I was trying to get her to get into the car.

He took one look at her and, very quietly, said “Do you want some chocolate?”

She didn’t even take a breath.

Her reaction was as instantaneous as withdrawing your hand from a hot surface.  Within nano seconds, she was at his feet screaming “CHOC-CHOOOOOOC!”

Your Mammy asked you to put on your shoes and get into the car.  You do as you’re told and I’ll see if I can find a chocolate for you.”

Within seconds the little tyrant had the shoes on and was on her car seat, even pulling the straps on my herself. I stood with my jaw on the ground.

Granda, the smug fecker, arrived out with a chocolate biscuit, handed it to Herself and warned “You be sure to listen to your Mammy now won’t you?” and then as he closed the car door, looked at me laughing and added “One word from me eh?”

In my defence, he has had many, many years of practice.  (At that moment, he also verified for me that the parenting books that dismiss bribery as cruel, are worth nothing more than cleaning up the dog’s little accidents.)

This “selective hearing” drives me insane.  I have it on good authority that it only gets worse.  I am however assured that by the time she reaches 27, she will finally start to hear my voice and possibly even listen.  And I’ve also learned over the past 2 years, to play her at her own game.

My selective hearing skills might not be as impressive as my 5 year old’s, but they’re improving. We learn from our kids every day don’t we!?