Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Terrible Things My Kids Have Said
With my kids, A was the queen of the horrifyingly embarrassing comment. Young M was more the physical type - the reach out of the supermarket cart and throw a six pack of rootbeer onto the floor type. Of course, he was also the one I found on top of the refrigerator when he was about 11 months old and the one who, at age five or thereabouts, was alone in the living room when the tremendous crash echoed through the house. Before I could even run at top Mom speed from the kitchen the crash was followed by a small voice yelling "Nothing! Nothing!" Endearingly, young M was also the child who was horrified in 1st grade by his hitherto revered teacher's ignorance of 8th century BC Chinese politics - "HOW can Mrs. Moton not know that Emperor Chin united Han, Shen and Wei?" But I don't remember young M saying anything too awful to strangers - this is young M, after all, he may well not have noticed them much on his headlong rush through childhood.
No, A was the queen of the offhand comments and the thing is, she was self righteous with it. "But MOM" is a comment I heard a lot. Still do, come to think of it. For example, "Mom, why is that lady SO FAT?" delivered in clear, high decibel tones with unmistakable pointing finger (also at the supermarket - the supermarket is a terrible place) rapidly turned into - at the same volume, mind you - "But MOM, it is NOT rude. She has to know that she's VERY FAT." And when we moved to New York and my Charleston/Baltimore child was suddenly confronted by an entire Latino neighborhood, she decided it would be politic to start speaking Spanish. Unfortunately, her Spanish, while delivered in pitch perfect Puerto Rican accent, was gobbledegook. "But MOM," she wailed indignantly, "That's exactly what they're saying! How can they think it's rude?" and, then, irrefutably, she added a clear explanation: "It is NOT a language. I can't understand it."
There are two more terrible young A stories. Hee hee; I'm enjoying this. When she was four or five we lived out in the Maryland countryside and my current boyfriend's grandparents had come to visit us. It was a nice day and we went out to lunch; A was very well behaved; everything was great - until the very end. We stood there waving goodbye as they got into their car and A called out, "BYE! COME BACK AND SEE US BEFORE YOU DIE!" followed, after I tried to squash her or something, by the dread "BUT MOM! They're OLD, they're going to die soon!" Helpful, young A. They never did come back to see us. I think I had to move out of sheer embarrassment.
The best one of all, though, is truly classic. When A was three, we went to spend a month in Ireland - in North Tipperary, to be exact, on the shores of Lough Derg, near Nenagh - swinging Nenagh, we called it. I escaped up to Dublin for a couple of days in this odyssey (during which I also got Epstein-Barr disease and so on, still, wouldn't trade that month for anything) and ended up playing tennis and having drinks at the Wicklow Tennis Club. (Have I told this here before? I think I have. God, my memory is going or something. Or I'm running out of anecdotes. Well, skip it if you've read it before. Or tell me meanly in the comments how senile I am. Whichever.) There were some other little kids in the bar and A ran off to play with them. I tuned into their conversation once or twice the way you do when your kids are small and was sort of taken aback to hear my small daughter, in the heart of 1986 holy Catholic Ireland, explaining earnestly: "No, the daddy has a PENIS and he puts it in the mommy's VAGINA."