Monday, January 24, 2011

Talking to our kids: Why honesty isn’t the best policy.

A couple of my co-workers are brand new parents; they're both fathers of "weekers"—you know, "She's twenty-one weeks," or "He'll be six weeks old in three weeks."

It's fun listening to them describe the changes in their tiny offspring, the new found cackling, cooing and crawling. I sit and listen to them like I'm a Spanish American War vet  hearing battle stories from a couple of soldiers still in boot camp.

I stormed into work this morning, shortly after my wife and I had engaged in a drawn out verbal battle with our teenager. I had ridden the bus in a quiet rage, churning over her insolence, selfishness and disrespect. As I sat down at my desk, the two rookie dads stood nearby, discussing the recent maturity of their kids' diaper contents.

"I know she's only seventeen weeks old, but since she's been eating those yams, her onesies smell like an Arby's restroom. She's growing up so fast."

"Hardy, freakin' har," I thought. Then actual words came out.

"Just wait until she's able to talk back," blurted yours truly, Mr. Self-Righteous. "Someday, you guys will know what it's like when the person for whom you'd jump in front of a bike messenger, treats you like something she peeled from her scalp."

I caught myself acting the part of disgruntled parent, but the damage was already done.

"You want to trade places with me and do the four a.m feeding?" one of them asked.


Can't there be a middle ground between ultra-needy, defenseless infant and smart-talking child? To be fair, my kids have enlightened my ears with wonderful, tear-inducing gems since their early days, many of which have been elaborated upon in this blog.

But that's not today's topic.

I've prided myself on taking the high road in response to most of their ridiculous comments; after all, I am the chronological adult of record. Nonetheless, I've prepared a small list of comments I could have made were I not the poster boy for the American Ice Water in the Veins Association.

The following statements were actually made by either my fifteen- or ten-year-old daughter. To protect the innocent, I won't say who said what:

"Dad, I thought adults don't get pimples."
My response, if I weren't the ultimate high road navigator: "Those aren't pimples. They're stress nodes caused by you. If three more pop up, I could die, so watch your mouth."

"Dad, can you not make so much noise unloading the dishwasher? I'm trying to wake up slowly."
My response, were I not the Dalai Lama, married to her mama: "Oh, sorry about that. Tomorrow morning I promise I'll tip toe into your room and slowly awaken you wearing full clown make-up."

"Dad, those bike tights look disgusting on you."
My response, if I weren't the most sensitive male this side of Kurt on Glee: "You know what, you're right. In fact, I'm done exercising. From now on, I'll eat what I want, when I want, and show up to your parent/teacher conferences wearing a gravy-stained yellow polo shirt neatly tucked into gray sweat pants, and sound like I'm snoring, even though I'm awake."

"Dad, next time will you spread the fake butter more evenly on my English Muffin?"
My response, assuming I weren't shattered by her comment: "Of course, Snookums. The Oompa Loompas normally perform this function. I truly am ashamed."

Again, I love my daughters. Really.

And some day, their kids will probably criticize them for saving fifty cents and buying the Safeway brand Pop Tarts.


  1. LOL (wheezing- I have a touch of a cold) about the stop exercising paragraph, very good again Tim! My daughter is 23 - been there, done that. She once closed her bedroom door on my face, after wards, she had no door for quite some time ;o)

  2. Marilee, I've threatened that one, but never followed through. I'm glad you can relate, and thanks for reading!