Language alert: this is me in my don’t care kind of mood. If swearing offends you this post isn’t your cup of tea.
This is probably one of those posts where a certain percentage of my readers are going to gasp and think “she’s such a horrible parent!” Maybe I am. I prefer to think of it as giving my kids a well-rounded education in “how to be a mature human.” Something like that. Of course, we’re still working on the basic stuff like “how to pick up after yourself” and “how to use the toilet without leaving a mess,” so I guess this is a work in progress.
Raising kids is weird. Seriously weird. I mean, how can you have this philosophical discussion with them one moment and the next you’re screeching at them to wash their hands because “we don’t pick our noses!?” Weird. They had a discussion tonight on who was the robot and who was the alien. Newsflash kids, you’re all aliens. Until you’re … say … somewhere around 20. Even then, it’s debatable.
A brief apology
I’m in a slightly medicated (migraine) wonky kind of stressed mood, sorry. House offer fell through, because no, people, you can’t claim that 2 days of rain invalidates a radon test. One of these days I’m going to write a post on how to not be a shitty human when selling a house. At this point I can probably tell you everything you need to know.
Sarcasm, a dying skill
Back to sarcasm. The skill of recognizing sarcasm and its brother, irony, is a dying ability in our country. If you think I’m wrong about this statement, I offer Facebook as my prime example. We are reduced to adding little smiley faces or frowny faces to our posts to ensure that our fellow humans won’t get offended over something so minor that it’s ridiculous. That’s my new favorite word: ridiculous.
If the kids do something stupid, we tell them “that was ridiculous!” instead of our first instinct of calling them a dumbass, as our generation was labeled. Or idiot, if you grew up in a more proper household. I’m not talking about ignorance or an innocent mistake – I mean the kind of bone-headed, idiotic move that anyone with half a brain could have avoided. I’ve been guilty of quite a few stupid actions in my lifetime so I’m not being overly harsh here. Ridiculous sounds kinder even if I’m thinking “dumbass!” in my head.
Ever since the kids were little, my husband has been training them in ‘How to Recognize Sarcasm” by liberally using it on them. He also specializes in “Learning to be Less Gullible” as well. His chosen method usually involves saying something off the wall and waiting for them to get it. They don’t always. More than once my daughter has panicked a little because of this. My oldest too, but rarely my youngest. He came with some sort of bullshit meter when he was born.
Eventually I got over my horrified nice mom attitude and joined it. After all, sarcasm is liberally used in our family life, and the sooner the kids learned to read their dad’s deadpan expression, the better. It only took me about 3 years, so they have a leg up on me. The man can play poker like a pro, but he cannot lie to me. Not any more. (not that he lies to me on a regular basis, but it’s one reason I HATE playing board games with him.)
How it works
Practically speaking, this training primarily involves responding to stupid questions with a wildly ridiculous statement. The hardest part about it is keeping a straight face! An example from just this week: “mom, is dad fixing smoothies for everyone?” I replied ” no, you don’t get one this time.” A brief pause, while the kid stared at my face for a few seconds. “Mom, that’s not funny!” I smiled back and told them “then don’t ask ridiculous questions!”
Sometimes it backfires. I once threatened to leave my youngest at home if he didn’t get his butt in the car. Now, my older two kids routinely ask if we can just leave him at home (with dad, who works from home.) To be fair, he is kind of pill when we’re driving. A month ago I had to pull over to the shoulder of the highway because he wanted to know what would happen if he poked the buckle by his sister’s car seat. What happened? She was still buckled in, but her seat wasn’t. Wibble wobble safety hazard. It’s a darn good thing I saw him doing it in the rear-view mirror!
I guess if you break it down to the core, we’re training our kids to be critical thinkers. To not blindly accept what they’re told. They already have the question authority thing down fine, now we just have to teach them to question everyone else. Just because it’s in a magazine, on a billboard, or a friend told you, does not make it so. And just because mom said so doesn’t make it true either.
Something tells me I might regret this, but then I shrug and consider the looming teen years. Three teens, all at the same time. Yikes!