In high school, I cooked dinner once (maybe twice). This is the benefit of being the youngest child in a family of twelve. The one time my mom commissioned me to make dinner, she gave me detailed instructions over the phone. The phone call lasted one hour in which she broke down every step of the process, repeating every part two to three times.
"Take out the chicken from the refrigerator, remove it from the package, and rinse it off," she said. "You get that? You really want to make sure you rinse it well. It's important you rinse it."
I rolled my eyes through the whole process. As soon as I got off the phone, I prepared the dinner following her instructions. Despite my mom being completely thorough, there were still details that may have seemed self-explanatory that didn't get addressed. She, unfortunately, didn't tell me which side of the whole chicken was supposed to be facing up, so I cooked it upside down. My logic was that the chicken lived with its breast pointed toward the ground, so this was the best way to cook it. Why reverse things in death? I wasn't asked to make dinner again, which is when I learned the amazing lesson that doing something very poorly guarantees that you won't be asked to do it ever again.
I recounted this experience many times since that night because I found it to be the perfect example of how my mom repeats everything.
"It's crazy," I'd say. "I heard her the first time. Why does she need to tell me so many more times?"
Six years into this parenting thing, I realize that I was the reason my mom repeated everything. I had trained her to say the same thing over and over again because I didn't listen to her the first time. I know this because I am now the one to reiterate instructions innumerable times.
"Put your shoes on," I say, taking a deep breath because I know I have another five minutes of saying this before even one sneaker gets put on. I wait one minute. "Put your shoes on." I wait another minute. "Put your shoes on." I wait another minute. "Put your shoes on." My blood starts boiling. "If you ever want to watch tv again, you will put your shoes on right now." I wait another minute. "That's it. You're not going out. Put your shoes on." This continues until I'm on the verge of tears.
In 15 years, Darla and Jude are going to be the ones who talk about how annoying it is that I repeat myself so much. In another 25 years, I hope they realize that they're the reason I do it. In the meantime, I'd like to give my mom a formal apology for not listening to her ever.