A Good Response

It’s hard being a mom and also a person. As a person, I’m practically MADE of flaws – I’m lazy and bitchy and often too clever for my own good. As a mom, I feel constant pressure to be good and right all the damn time so I don’t raise…people like me…I guess?

One day, walking to school, a kid asked my daughter, “why are you always wearing that stupid coat?” She was cut to the quick and my hackles were up instantly. We talked about a good way to respond and my immediate instinct was a series of biting comebacks. I settled on the most quietly immature, because she was 6, and suggested she say “I dunno, why are you always wearing that stupid face?”

She was shocked. “MOM! That would be SO mean. And I’d probably get in trouble.”

I was flummoxed. Mean? But that’s how the game is played! How are you going to win if you’re not willing to be meaner than the other guy!? It’s like everything I ever learned was wrong!

Fast forward a couple of years. The Madness says to me, “Justin said he won’t be my friend unless I let him cut me.”

Now before you lose your shit, as I did, I should say that she meant “cut in line,” which is very different than the way I took it. Once that was cleared up, I suggested a number of ways she could tell Justin to take a long walk off a short pier. Then I registered her horror. I took a deep breath. I tried to think like a nice person…but not a complete pushover. This is the age of weaponized friendship, after all, and as a mom I know I need to stay ahead of it.

“Okay,” I said. “How about this. Next time anyone says they won’t be your friend unless you let them use you for their own benefit, you can say; “That stinks, I’m really going to miss you as my friend.”

I don’t think she was impressed, but I thought it was the best goddam response ever. I mean, that’s some passive aggressive ninjitsu right there. It’s like saying f* off, but with LOVE. No getting in trouble with the school PLUS no letting someone walk all over you. WINNING.

This was at the end of a long day of kid #two painting herself (and her room) all the colors and cutting her own bangs, so I needed the win.

2017-07-24 10.57.40

I was happily resting on my laurels when, today, someone said something rude to me on the internet. I almost clapped back at him: “George, anyone can make a small mistake; ask your mom.”

But I didn’t. I took a deep breath. I decided to be the bigger person and keep my digital mouth shut.

…And then I wrote a blog post so I could still say the thing. Because it turns out I’m not all that big after all. But I’m working on it. My kid is teaching me. You’re welcome, GEORGE.


9 thoughts on “A Good Response

  1. I’ve definitely given a couple of suggestions in my day that made my kids eyeballs pop out, but I honestly think you had some winning suggestions. I don’t know, kids seem to be heartless little user pricks. All the time my daughter’s telling me she got an ultimatum from some friend. I don’t think every kid does that and thankfully she’s good at setting them straight. Good for the kids because my suggestions sound a lot like yours. They may not use them now but when they get older and really have to one day, all your wisdom will come rushing back and they’ll knock some prick over with it.

    • Yeah, I feel like I’m the “anger translator” for my kid. She’s so dang NICE, but I hope she knows she’s got a crazy lady standing behind her ready for ALL the fights!

  2. My kids are too young for something like that. Hell, I’m impressed my threenager isn’t a total douche face and pushes a kid down because life is just too exciting to nap. But, from personal experience I find the passive aggressive “kindness” to be extraordinarily gratifying. You can continue to model it well for your kids, and one day they will appreciate it, and find bestowing such kindness equally fulfilling.

  3. My wife keeps reminding me that children don’t understand the kind of biting sarcasm that forged my personality. I also had to stop myself from teaching my oldest to “rope a dope” someone in his kid karate dojo. I miss the 70’s.

  4. That was, without a doubt, the best opening paragraph I have read in years. Never worry about what you say to a child because they will always know what you wanted to say.

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