Have you ever thought about what your kids tell their teachers or their friends or, worse yet, their friends’ parents? My mother told me that my brother’s preschool teacher once said “We won’t believe anything your child tells us about you if you don’t believe anything your child tells you about us.” Having been a teacher, I concur. There have been several instances when a parent called me to clarify something I said only to find out it was taken out of context, if not completely changed from its original form. The first year I taught third grade I had an irate parent contact me at home one evening accusing me of calling her child lazy. First of all, I would never call a child lazy- that’s just mean. Secondly, this particular child was anything but. So after slowly recounting the day’s events and discussions I realized that I had had a talk with the entire class about always doing their best when it comes to school work. I acknowledged that sometimes we don’t feel like it and we can all be lazy at times, but if we just put our best effort in we can avoid having to redo something or a disappointing grade. Somehow, this particular child heard me call her lazy. Kids, you gotta love ’em. After realizing the mistake the parent sheepishly apologized and hung up. The next day she brought me a Starbucks;)
Now usually it is DS1 who leaves me speechless with the information that pours from his mouth. Whether it’s his observations about the snack choices at a friend’s house- “Billy gets to have fruit snacks every day. That’s not a very healthy snack choice.” Or his philosophical analysis of someones behavior on the playground- “Sally was not kind to Johnny today. I think she needs to think about what it means to have Jesus in her heart.” However, it was DS2 who stopped me in my tacks in Target this week. (Someone recently asked me why I never say much about DS2 on this blog. That is a post for another day on which I am currently working.)
Monday after school I took the boys to Mecca. Yes, that’s what I call the Target Greatland in Vista- Mecca. Why? You see, it has a Starbucks located inside the store. Yes, inside the store. Really, is Target trying to house all my addictions under one roof? All they need to do is line the aisles with life sized cut outs of the characters from Twilight and I might actually take up residence inside the store. I like to go to “Fancy Target” as DS2 calls it because I can grab coffee, do my errands and get a snack for my kids simultaneously- the ultimate pleasure for a multi-tasker such as myself.
This week we arrived at the Fancy Target to purchase a few items needed for the house and one very special treat- the Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakquel Soundtrack. I promised the boys we could buy it. Needless to say, they were chomping at the bit- or should I say at their vanilla scones purchased at Starbucks. So we meandered through Target gathering purchases, waited in an insanely long line while my kids proceeded to ask the name of and ingredients found in each and every candy displayed, finally paid and began to exit the building when all of a sudden I heard DS2 changing this little diddy:
“Oly, shit, Oly shit, Oly shit”
You know how in movies during a particularly exciting and intense action scene time slows? Well, that’s what happened to me. In a Matrix-like moment, I stopped dead in my tracks, my eyes grew to the size of saucers, my jaw dropped to the floor and I made eye contact with a nice little trio of elderly women in front of me as they whirled around looking as stunned as me. In that moment I was able to read their minds with Edward Cullen-like accuracy and here’s what I heard, “What did that precious little boy just say? His mother must use that foul language at home? What a terrible mother.” Yeah, I know that’s what they said because their faces morphed from shock to piercing stares in an instant.
Now I am guilty of a lot of bad parenting moments, as most of you know since I so willingly share them with you. I yell too much, I lack patience, I pull over in abandoned industrial parking lots to discipline, the list goes on and on. But having a child like DS1 who is quick and bright, I learned early on to never, ever curse in front of my kids. I know it would only be a matter of days before I got a call from school that my sweet boy dropped an F-bomb on the playground if I didn’t have this filter. Besides, “s@*t” isn’t really a word I use. “Crap” tends to be my word of choice. So there is no way he learned this particular indiscretion from me.
So I quickly regained my composure, smiled apologetically at the geriatric trio, and maneuvered myself in front of DS2. I took his sweet face in my shaking hands and said, “What did you say, Honey?” He looked at me with his angelic smile and said, “Always sit. Always sit. Always sit. You always sit in the cart, Mommy, so you don’t fall out.” Needless to say, there was a collective sigh of relief. I kissed him and told him how smart he was and that was right- we should always sit in the cart. I then made eye contact with my judge and jury who suddenly underwent a change in demeanor and smiled graciously. They too smiled in return and, if their faces were any indication of their thoughts, were pleased to remove me from the “Bad Mom” list.
And as I exited Target feeling proud that I hadn’t, in fact, modeled yet another undesirable behavior for my boys, one of the elderly women placed her hand on my arm and whispered conspiratorially, “When my oldest was 5 he yelled the F Word in the middle of the grocery store. I wanted to die. I also wanted to kill his father.” She then winked at me, gave me a reassuring pat and sent me on my way. In that moment, it would have been easy to think that at least my child wasn’t “that bad”; but then I remembered, that the day was not yet over and he could, in fact, be “that bad” at any moment because he’s a flawed kid raised by a flawed mom in a flawed world- anything is possible.
My kid almost cursed in public…
That’s just my normal.