Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wrong Words, Wrong Time

Raising children is hard stuff, and few will deny that one of the hardest phases to tackle is when your children are very young.  Mercifully, as Cael gets older, he is starting to exit this phase and grow into more adult problems.  But for symbolism's sake, I'm sure, he decided to bookend this phase of his life with his signature offense, the very thing he has always done and prompted me to create this blog in the first place... saying the wrong thing at an even wrong-er time.

Cael at 4, plotting his next caper
It all began with a four year-old Cael asking family members (and eventually strangers) to see their nuts. Bizarre, yes.  Funny, completely. But offensive?  It took an older, wiser Cael to simultaneously embarrass, horrify, irritate, and shock me with nothing but words.  And exceptional timing.

After an unprecedented string of birthday party invitations for Graham, I could sense that Cael was getting frustrated watching his younger brother head out the door to yet another celebration.  So last Saturday, I set it up for one of Cael's best friends to come play for about three hours while Graham was away.

They made up their own game.  They played on the Nintendo DS.  They made an infinite number of fart jokes and laughed at themselves until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And before they knew it, we found ourselves at the friend's front door, saying thank you and looking forward to his next visit.

And then, in a decidedly "outdoor" voice, Cael struck.

"Mom, I still don't understand why you don't like him!"

"What?  Wait... what?  Why would you say-- WHAT?!"

I should have seen it coming, I suppose.  There may have been a look in his eye, or a slight shift in pressure around me.  But I was too concentrated on saying goodbye and closing the door to notice Cael preparing for the inevitable.

I hurried him into the car and brought out the inquisition.

What makes you think I don't like your friend?
Why would you be so indiscreet?
How come your voice is SO loud?
Why do 8 year-old boys think farts are so funny?

Through his confusion, Cael tried to answer, but the damage had already been done.  I considered ringing the doorbell again and trying to undo my son's mistake, but I feared that my ramblings would come across as desperate and insincere.  So instead, I facepalmed the entire drive home and figured we'd never see the friend again.

The misunderstanding was eventually uncovered.  A couple of years ago, I made a comment about preferring Cael not to play with a different boy he'd befriended at school.  He and that boy became proverbial partners in crime, and while that child never came to play at our house, I tried to encourage Cael to spend his time with other kids that didn't bring out the negative side of my boy.  Two years later, my words had somehow stuck, Cael's wires got crossed, and I looked like the bad guy.  Or gal.

The next day, my heartbeat had finally returned to normal when the doorbell rang and the friend's mom stopped by to drop off a loaf of homemade bread.  I was so relieved that Cael's offensive words had miraculously not been heard, relieved that we'd not shunned this kind family, and relieved to put the entire episode behind us.

So I said "goodbye", and Cael said...

"Why did they give us bread, mom?  Isn't that totally weird?"

Sounds like friendship, just like discretion, will be a lifelong challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no, oh no no no!
    I am cringing for you. They certainly teach us 'If you don't have anything nice to say'

    Seriously though, you wouldn't hold that against someones else child, would you? Neither would I and I truly believe there are a lot more nice people then doofus's in the world.
    xx Nicole


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.