Growing up, when we made stupid choices then said, “Well, so-and-so said to do that!” (in that irritating voice children have been known to use), my mom would look at us and ask:
“If your friends told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it? I didn’t think so. So why did you do THIS?”
sigh. Mom was right. It was the VERY first thing that came to mind today when one of the boys was squirting the freshly cleaned sliding glass door (8’ door no less—lots of clean glass!) with his squirt gun filled with sandy water from the wading pool. I asked him why he did it (stupid question to ask a 5 year old, I know) and he said, “My brother told me to do it.” I looked at him and just shook my head, mostly in frustration. So desperately I wanted to ask him that famous question about the Brooklyn Bridge, but I knew he’d just look at me blankly. Talking to Jim later today, he said that his mom used to ask the very same question. We laughed about that. Then I started thinking…and I don’t think I’ve ever said that to any of the big guys. I’ll have to ask them.
The child with the squirt gun is the same child who goes places he knows are off limits, plays with things he knows aren’t his, and generally tends to be a challenge. He’s definitely my most inquisitive. And opinionated. He’s also the most helpful. A couple of days ago, I was making dinner (chicken stir fry) and cutting vegetables to get started. He asked me what I had just washed. When I told him it was baby bok choy, he looked at it for a minute,then looked at me and said, “No thank you. I don’t want to eat any. My brother says it is icky.” Stifling a laugh, I looked at him and responded with a very straight face, “Well…you’re going to be awful hungry later because this is what’s for dinner. And your brother has never had it before, so you don’t need to pay attention to him.” He helped me finish cutting the vegetables, then while he was cleaning up he let me know that maybe he WOULD like baby bok choy after all, and that he would be happy to eat dinner pretty soon. I LOVE his help, it’s the running commentary and strong opinions I could do without. But you know what? If you ask him now, he’ll tell you that it was a pretty good dinner!
So Mom…I apologize for all those times I told you that someone else was responsible for my stupid decisions. And all the opinions—OY! You put up with a lot. All these years later, I certainly understand your frustration with us. Thanks for giving me words when I don’t know how else to respond! Even if I don’t say them aloud. You taught us well. Every so often I say something, then think “Oh my goodness. I sound JUST like my mother!” And that’s an okay thing.