Annoying or hilarious things your child does
Part 1 of what could be a lengthy series
Here’s something teenagers will do that makes me want to run out into the backyard and just start running around in circles clucking like a chicken. Or let’s be more accurate, since I haven’t done any population studies to test that last sentence: I know one teenager who does this thing that makes me lose my mind.
I go into her room to let her know it’s almost time to turn the WIFI off and turn in for the evening. She’s sitting on the bed, looking at her computer with ear buds in.
The doorway that I’m standing in is at about a 40-50 degree angle from her line of vision.
Human peripheral vision is quite sufficient for me to reasonably believe that there’s no way she could miss an object the size of her father moving into the doorway, at a distance from her of perhaps 8-10 feet.
A perfectly reasonable understanding of the situation then is as follows: I know with confidence that she knows I’m there, and I know that she knows the only reason I would be there at this particular time is to make the announcement I’m there to make.
Somehow, though, she does not look up from her computer as I stand there and call her name once, twice, three, four times.
I wave my hand to get her attention. She still does not turn her head in my direction.
Only when I turn the overhead light off and then back on, and so it becomes impossible to continue to ignore me, does she deign to notice my presence.
Then, when I’m a little perturbed (fairly so, I submit, given all the facts just presented) that she didn’t notice me earlier, she asks me with exaggerated innocence “Why are you upset? I didn’t do anything!”
Those are the times that try fathers’ souls.
Now, the hilarious…
My younger child learned about kindness in school. They read A Little Dot of Kindness and got some fragments of the seemingly infinite number of other related books by the same author.
Kindness is fine. Let me just say that. More than fine. (It’s always good to go on the record on such things). I like kindness, and I think it’s a good idea to teach kindergartners about it, so long as we agree on the definition.
This is alas increasingly something that cannot be taken for granted. The context of much of this kindness teaching in schools has to do with the spread like wildfire of ‘mindfulness,’ a watered down Western form of Eastern religious ideas and practice not unlike the cheap knockoffs of Buddhism and Hinduism that emerged in California in the 1960s.
Much as I appreciate some of the elements of those Eastern religious systems, I am one of those people who believe the West has its own religious and moral systems that we probably do better to teach to our children, at least when they’re in kindergarten. Learn about Buddhism in college, sure, fine. Lots of interest and utility there. But how about some Judeo-Christian teaching on kindness before that? A little bit, at least? It’s pretty good stuff.
So, anyway, my little one got some of this kindness teaching. What she does with some frequency with what she’s learning is to invoke the various pacifist, kumbaya, sometimes maudlin mantras she’s learning in agonistic, warring efforts to out-argue her older sister, her mom, or yours truly.
For example: When her sister says something she doesn’t like, she immediately goes to “You are not growing your kindness spot!” which is shouted, with a glare and a look of unadulterated moral superiority. (I admit a bit sheepishly that when she does this, mobilizing mindfulness aggressively against itself, I experience an indescribable satisfaction).
She tends too, especially when she’s upset, to use the various catch phrases she’s gathered from this material in a more or less randomized way that is sometimes wonderfully entertaining (though she does not always appreciate the humor, and the indignant glare intensifies).
So, after several unsuccessful efforts to get her to leave some object of play and brush her teeth, her mother or I will tell her that if she doesn’t come right away, the toy will be confiscated, and she will respond with an outraged “That is not helpful to our planet!”
Those of you who have children will understand precisely how much effort is required in such moments to remain in parental authority mode and not just dissolve in laughter.