Third Time’s The Charm … Sometimes

Art imitates life, right?

That’s why movies are so relatable to us. A moment in our lives, played out on the big screen. Even if not perfect, oftentimes we can see pieces of our lives in movies we love.

As a guy, it’s pretty much in my DNA to remember movie lines. These lines take up valuable space in my brain that should be occupied by financial deftness, science knowledge, the ability to recite literature, or more answers in Jeopardy!

Instead, it’s full of movie lines. Random ones. Classic ones. Lines you can easily identify (“Bueller? Bueller?”) and lines that probably need a lot of explanation (“That’s a really nice jacket.”).

In the 1990s, it was quite easy to find people my age quoting lines from Austin Powers. It still happens, just with less frequency, but a poor British accent and someone saying “Do I make you horny, baby?” still draws a chuckle. In fact, the missus did it the other day in a Snapchat that I’m sure no one in this readership received, quipping “She’s a man, baby!” when using a filter that put a beard on her.

Having watched the Austin Powers trilogy more times than I’d like to admit, I have a lot of the move’s lines down pat.

And, oddly, as my daughter grows older, a random scene from the second Austin Powers film sticks out in my mind.

Basically, my daughter is one of the worst listeners I have ever met. Other parents assure me that we do not have the star student in the “Worst Listener in the World” category, although I would like to send in her application to the Guinness Book record keepers.

It seems that every time we ask her to do something, we are met with the same resistance that Will Ferrell’s character, Mustafa, gives to Austin Powers.

Re-watching the scene, I feel Austin’s pain.

Disbelief. Followed by frustration. Followed by pure annoyance. Followed by an odd sense of being OK that this person just got a blow dart in their neck and fell down a cliff.

Minus the guns, it’s almost as if my daughter is Mustafa, and we are Austin Powers and Felicity Shagwell.

This is because we need to ask her to do things at least three times before getting a response

Ella, can you put your shoes on? We are going to be late.


Ella! Can you please put your shoes on? We need to go.

**Rustling in the bedroom. More silence.**

Ella! Put your shoes on! Please!

Oh! Kay! **stomps feet**

This is a snapshot of living with a small human being. I joke that if we cut off her ears, it wouldn’t make a difference since she doesn’t use them anyway. The hardest part is that she is fully capable of performing this act. Like anything else, I know it’s going to get harder as she gets older – selective hearing as a teenager, or needing to be literal in how we ask her to do things.

Listening is a skill that can constantly be altered. It’s why you hear the term “active listening” in corporate culture. It’s why someone can tell you 10 positive things, but you remember the negative one.

It’s why, in the movie “Crazy, Stupid Love” Steve Carrell’s character gives a great soliloquy to Marisa Tomei about how much he’s sweating and all she hears is “You think I’m the perfect combination of sexy and cute?”

The thing is, though, with those examples, at least some of what’s being said is being absorbed.

With my daughter, we have to play by the “ask three times” rule.

Which is why I’m going to go ask her to get ready for dinner. Three times.