Friday, April 11, 2014

Lessons from a Cute Kid

Dear Moms of Cute Kids:

I didn't see you yesterday, but I thought of you. You, with your pearl earrings and sparkling wedding rings. You could be like me, with striped hair and Goodwill jeans, or like some of my friends, who scrape the bottom of the barrel at the end of the month. Or you could be like some of my other friends, refined and well-off. Whatever your situation, I'll still say hello to you because I know you. You're a nice person, a giving community member, and a good role model, as far as I can tell. You have a Smartphone and mostly-straight teeth and fine skin. In fact, I've often wondered how your face can be so youthful still, after kids, and marriage, and years of sun and winter wind. Not a fine line or wrinkle to be found.

And I realized it's because you have nothing to worry about--at all. You are the mother of a Cute Kid. The sort that gets away with anything and everything because, after all, the kid is cute. The kid has a cute button nose and cute facial expressions. The kid is smarter than a whip and doesn't hesitate to enchant everyone with words. Except that the words are always tucked away within a monologue. Notice the word there, though. Monologue. That's right, your kid doesn't hold a dialogue. There is no give and take to the conversation. It's all about your kid. Every day. All the time.

In fact, yesterday, when I asked your kid to be quiet for a moment (one moment, mind you), when I needed to hear what another student was saying, your kid had the gall to tell me that what the other child was saying didn't matter. That other kids (including yours) can tell me the same thing, just faster. Well okay then. Clearly, your kid missed the point. I didn't want your kid to tell me the answer; I wanted the other child to do it. So I told your kid that it would have been nice to hear the other child's voice, not your kid's. And your kid laughed. Like what I said was completely absurd and, dare I say it, wrong. Like I was telling your kid something no one else had mentioned before.

My guess is that no one has told your kid to keep the mouth closed, shut the trap, or in a much stronger manner, SHUTUP. But that's what I wanted to say yesterday. However, I am an adult and thankfully, I'd woken up and put my filter on that day. I knew better than to say anything quite so daring, to a Cute Kid. (After all, I might get sent to the principal's office for not modeling good behavior. Or even worse, they might fire me. [I'd like to see them try to fire a volunteer.])

But the fact that your child never stays quiet and always thinks a fact or opinion from within your kid's head needs to be shared is just the tip of the ice berg. For later that day, when I was back in the school, working again with some other children (one of whom happened to be your child--how lucky am I?) your Cute Kid asked me a question.

"Did I get this right?" your kid asked.

"Well, yes. Look, it's right there," I tapped the white board. "We discussed that problem already. Please try to listen to me. If you'd been listening, you would know that you got the answer right." What I didn't say was that this was the second or third time already that day that I'd had to point out that your kid wasn't listening to me.

Your Cute Kid looked up at me, and with deep, expressive eyes, plainly stated, "Well, I have a problem listening to people who aren't as smart as me."

My jaw dropped. My heart raced. My hands shook. It took me a second to register what had happened, and then, I kicked your kid out of my room. That's right. I kicked your kid out.

Listen, I don't have anything against Cute Kids. In fact, I think my own kids are pretty cute. But you are the mother of the kid that everyone says is "so cute." In fact, everyone utters that phrase often. Along with  "so bright," and "so special." So often are these words used, I take it, that your kid thinks it's okay to treat people the way your kid treated me today. After all, with a simple smile or showing of the dimples, maybe a quick cock of the head, most people laugh at what comes out of your Cute Kid's mouth. It doesn't matter what's being said, there's something about the way your kid says it that causes people to shake their head a couple of times and then chuckle.

But I'm not most people. I am the one that will tell your kid that what just happened is not right. That what you say to people, no matter how cute you are when you say it, does matter. Because you cannot have a kid walking around, disrespecting people. You cannot have your child believing that they are better than anyone and everyone because they have a cute face and an impressive brain. You cannot have your child assuming that the world will adjust to what they do and say. That is not how life works and as long as I'm in this world, there will be one person out there willing to call out your kid's nasty behavior.

And that behavior is nasty. I told my kids that if any one of them had done what your kid did to me in that classroom, I'd have kicked them out, too. It doesn't matter that we're related by blood. The behavior I saw was wrong, plain and simple.

So please, do me a favor sometime. In the minute you might have while your kid is not talking (maybe it will only be 30 seconds of silence you find, so make every second count), try to get a good parenting moment in there. Try to talk to your Cute Kid about the value of respect, and explain that while your kid is human and might make mistakes like the rest of us, that your kid should strive to be generous and kind and respectful. Tell them about choices and doing the right thing. I'd do that soon, mind you. Have that conversation now, before your Cute Kid grows up to be Hell-in-a-pair-of-Converse and you've become, instead, a Mom of the Kid Everyone Detests.

If nothing else, don't say I didn't warn you. And, while I know it hurts (or you just don't give a hoot about anything I've written here), you're welcome.

Sincerely,

Me

1 comment:

Penny said...

yes!

You have taken feelings I have wished to express right out of my brain.

Thank you.