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Don’t Know Nothing ‘bout Science Books or the French I Took

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November 17, 2011 by Alison Grisham

By Alison Grisham

My daughter patted me on the head the other day and said, “you know… you’re cute, but you’re not that smart.” It didn’t appear to be a revelation. It was more like she was saying, “look we’ve all discussed this, and really… it’s only fair you should know where we stand.”

It occurred to me to respond with: “Oh yeah, well sometimes I cut the green parts off moldy bread and feed it to you anyway… so how do you like that?” But I saw into the future and decided it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want to be both stupid and eternally scrutinized while making sandwiches.

It’s not like I was shocked by her comment. My kids think it’s their duty to disclose any opinion or random thought, about me, that pops into their adorable little brains. Or, “Uh, mom, do you know that your hair has a big line of grey in the middle?” “Mom, that smell is disgusting. What are you cooking? And my personal favorite: “Mom, your stomach is so big, it looks like you’re having a baby.”

This is why I always laugh when people say things like, “You know what I love about kids? They’re just so honest. It’s really refreshing.”

When someone says that to you, they’re in one of two camps. Either they don’t have kids at all, or, your kid just insulted them and they’re trying to tell you what a little craphead your kid is, without actually using the word craphead. In this case, the word refreshing means, “wow, it feels like someone just dumped an unexpected bucket of ice water on my head.”

This assessment comes from first hand experience since my daughter once looked at an extremely large man and said, “You’re really fat. Do you eat a lot of candy?” The man laughed and said something about how refreshing kids are. Of course, I was frantically looking for a sock to shove down my daughter’s throat, so I didn’t really hear his entire comment. But you get the picture.

At least, on that occasion, the man was a stranger, so hopefully I’ll never see him again. But I haven’t always been so lucky. When my second son was in first grade he was standing by the school office when he saw the priest stopping in to talk to the principal. “Father, are you’re in trouble?” he said.

“No, Ben, why would I be in trouble?”

Now, let me just say that I wasn’t actually there but his response has become sort of legendary at the school, and adults who were there, never miss an opportunity to remind me ​of the “refreshing” answer my son gave the priest that day.

“… why would I be in trouble?” Father said.

“Because you make mass way too long and waste our precious time.”

Make no mistake. I’m still recovering from how “refreshing” that was.

Sure kids are honest, if that’s the word you want to use. If it weren’t for my kids I’d be suffering from all kinds of delusions. I wouldn’t know how loud I talk, how embarrassing I am, or how badly I dress. I wouldn’t have a clue how horrible my hair looks and, without my daughter’s help last week, I’d be walking around thinking I was reasonably intelligent.

Then again, this was coming from a person who can’t remember to wash the conditioner out of her hair, and doesn’t know what day comes after Thursday. So, all things considered, maybe I won’t count myself out just yet.

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