Bad Marcoda! Children are not Pets!

 (Thanks, Jess)

When I was first pregnant with Jaden–that was a weird sentence. Let me start again.

From the early weeks of my pregnancy with Jaden through today I made a promise to myself and my kids: I would never talk about them as if they weren’t in the room.

I have broken this promise too many times to count. Basically every time when I’m talking to an adult and my kids are in the room. So several times a day.

Adults have a habit of discussing their children’s quirks or behavioral issues or just latest updates in general in a way that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that children are, in fact, human beings with working brains that are little sponges soaking up everything they hear. This is particularly dangerous when their mother is a sarcastic woman who likes to joke about shoving her three year old out the door with a box of fruit snacks and let her fend for herself because she can’t take one more defiant “NO!”.

In truth, I love my children more than life itself and would do anything to make their lives better or just make them happy. But I do joke about having a particular favorite or one of them regaining my love after days of making me miserable. And worse I make these jokes when they’re in the room as if they’re not there or can’t hear me. Jaden hears every word I say. Luckily I haven’t heard anything too horrible in the way of cursing out of her but I worry that she doesn’t know when mommy’s joking.

A couple years ago my cousin went to my mom and, basically, tattled that I was teasing her. I can’t remember exactly what I said now but at the time when my mom came to me I remembered exactly what I said and I didn’t think it was harmful at all and neither did my mom. Then my mom said something that’s stuck with me: “I told her, “Well, [Amy], Marcoda has a very dry sense of humor that sometimes borders on being mean. You just have to know she doesn’t mean it and is just joking.” I’m pretty sure I shot back with, “Well, jeez, mom, who’d I get that from?”

Have I stopped being sarcastic? Hells no! That’s who I am and, really, the only thing I got going for me personality-wise as I’m sure not a samaritan or ninja-type person. I don’t know what that means. The point is, I don’t want my kids to be hurt by my humor and the only way I can avoid that is to stop acting like they can’t hear me.

So, here’s my request to myself and all of you who have kids or ever find yourself around kids: remember that they’re people too.  Perhaps when asking the parent how the kids are doing, engage them in the conversation. It might be hard if the kids are anything like my kid (“What did you do at school today?” “I don’t know.” “You were just there. Did you sing songs?” “Yeah!” “What song did you sing?” “I don’t know. You tell me.” “I don’t know! I wasn’t there!” and so on…) but at least try.

Or wait until the kids are old enough to shoot some smart ass comments right back at ya.

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2 Responses

  1. Point heard and taken!!! I’ve been having lots of conversations about potty training (with other parents) while Claire is in the room. It has been interesting and irritating to be spelling a lot of stuff out and talking “around” the topic so as to not have Claire know we are talking about her. What?! Kids are people too???

  2. Ahem, some cousins do read your blog.

    I’m kidding–as long as you’re not referring to me!

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