An Idiot, A Broad
What a difference a few years makes in the experience of parenting.
I have three children and two step children, and I love them all. This isn't funny, but as I'm going to focus on two of them, I wanted to make sure the others don't seed a grudge which will, over the next 30 years, fester into a hatred that ends up in them being the one around when I stub my toe, telling the doctors "He wouldn't want to live like this. Pull the plug."
My daughter is 16. She's a fairly typical teenaged girl in some ways, and an extraordinary one in others. I say this in an absolutely unbiased fashion, because there's NOTHING to the stereotype that little girls have their daddies wrapped around their little fingers. I will swear to that even after she reads this and demands I make significant changes so as not to not embarrass her, and as I do so while convincing myself that those sections really needed rewriting anyway.
But Katie just came back from a school trip to Italy; a week in Europe with her high school band-mates. She had participated in numerous fund drives all on her own to raise the money for the trip and had even managed to save up a hefty sum for spending money during the trip. Her mother and I had asked if she wanted us to volunteer to chaperone the trip (a cheap excuse to justify paying for a trip to Italy), and she adamantly did not. She is clearly growing up and becoming independent in that wonderful, frustrating way children have.
Then there's my youngest, Liam, who is 6 and lives with me during school days and with his mother on weekends. Liam is a fantastic little boy and a joy to be around, but he's definitely still a child. For instance, he still regularly puts his shoes on the wrong feet. "Ow! Those are much too tight! Put them on YOUR feet!" I'll have to tell him.
And we regularly have conversations about words and what they mean and how to use them. Things like when is it appropriate to use certain words and why is it hurtful to use them at other times, or even "what does that word mean" when I use a particularly large word (not that I have pronounced polysyllabic tendencies or anything).
And so this morning, as we were sitting down eating our breakfast, Liam looks at me and says "Daddy, is Idiot a state or a town?"
Understand that while his vocabulary isn't large, his grasp of syntax is pretty good, so I was curious why he thought "Idiot" was the name of a place, but nevertheless we had a nice conversation about the word "idiot" and what it means and why it isn't a nice thing to call someone. I assured him that "idiot" was not a place.
He looked confused. I'm pretty sure he had heard the term "idiot" before in that context, but thought that maybe "Idiot" was also the name of a place.
So to try to alleviate his confusion, I asked him "Where did you hear that word?"
He said "From you, Dad."
From me? I'm pretty certain I hadn't used the term "idiot" in several days, almost certainly not in front of my son, and at 6 he doesn't usually hang on to things. When I ask him what he did at school that day, he usually "can't remember", so I figured he must have heard the term "idiot" sometime within the memory span of a goldfish, and I was positive I hadn't said it this morning.
"When did you hear me say that, Liam?"
"Just a little while ago. You said 'Katie's home. She's no longer in Idiot.' "
Boy, did that make me feel like an italy!
Copyright © March 26, 2012 by Liam Johnson. http://humor.liamjohnson.net