I have been remiss in my writings lately; not to make excuses, however it has been busy around the household with football season having started up (my oldest son plays in the Marching Band) and diving season having started back up also. Needless to say, parents are just as busy as the kids.
I read some very funny posts on some fellow bloggers’ sites (I apologize that I can’t remember them both, but I do recall one, The Hilarity of Parenting; for the other site, please let me know if you had posted a story about filters so I can post a link here to your posting to give proper credit for the inspiration) that reminded me of a story from our own experiences that highlights this topic.
Now, to be honest up front, I wasn’t there for this incident; my wife was. I just got to enjoy the humor of it after the fact.
Now for the story:
My youngest J.T. was only 3 and a half when he accompanied my wife to the elementary school that his brother Cal was attending. This was the year prior to when he would be starting pre-K at the same school.
As parents, we all pretty much realize that kids, especially at a very young age, have no social filters. They tend to comment on the world exactly as they see it, whether in just a matter of fact manner on observations or in a very humorous way that reflect only how a child views the world. However, as parents we tend to FORGET about this amazing quality in our young children and it surfaces like a breaching whale to smack us right in the face. “Hello, I don’t mean to be blunt or brutally honest, I just call them as I see them.” (Sarcasm here 🙂
Ok, back to the story: My wife, with J.T. in tow, was standing in the office at the school talking to the receptionist about something (she was involved with PTA, so was in the office quite often) when this cute little voice from down next to her calls out, “Excuse me.”
Alright, the picture needs to be painted a little further for you, so you can appreciate the coming horror and train wreck of a situation that my wife was to find herself in. The receptionist was an older lady, who would be described in a polite way in parts of the South as being “healthy.” My wife had FORGOTTEN about that quality in young kids to tend to leave their filters at home or that they tend to view and comment on the world in a very matter of fact approach. So, she had no warning bells go off, no flashing lights and horns screaming “Danger, Danger Will Robinson” (Ok, I dated myself here), when that small voice called out, “Excuse me.”
The lady stopped talking to my wife and looked down at J.T. “Yes?” Now, who can resist stopping what they are doing when you have a cute, little child so politely requesting your attention (“Excuse me”). Now, I have to say he used good manners in this initial exchange. But, what was to follow was a moment of soul wrenching horror (at least for my wife).
“Yes?” the receptionist replied. J.T. in all his innocence said, “Your fat.”
Now I have to admit that I cannot accurately describe what my wife felt at that very precise moment. She has described it as that she was mortified and embarrassed. I can imagine that if she had been able to curl up and stuff herself and J.T. inside of her purse and just sink into the ground out of sight and into oblivion could possibly be somewhat of a description of maybe how she was feeling at that moment.
Needless to say, she profusely apologized to the lady and wondered in horror what the next year was going to bring, because J.T. was going to have to come to school there!
I can imagine after concluding the business she had to take care of, which probably was very awkward from that point on, she took J.T. in tow and headed home.
The conversation with herself in her head must have gone something like this:
“The checklist. The Master Parenting Checklist. I need to check it to see if this was covered. Ok, we taught him to be nice to others; to always try to treat people nicely. But did he understand about saying things like this? Wait, would he have equated this as not “being nice.” Oh My God, we forgot to program and install this in his social filter! THIS WAS NOT COVERED IN THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT CAME WITH THE KID!”
Full disclosure here: Dramatic license was used in the preceding paragraph 🙂
We had gone through similar things before, we had an older child. She forgot one of the primary rules of parenting: Kids will say the darnedest things and when you least expect it. The next lesson in being polite and nice to people was then delivered to J.T. About saying nice things to people, and what is considered nice and not nice to say. Also, the principle of if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
About one to two weeks later my wife found herself once again having to go into the school office to take care of some PTA business. Now to the receptionist’s credit, she never appeared to be overly offended or treated my wife in any manner but friendly and professionally. As my wife was standing there talking to her once again, those fateful words rang out again, “Excuse me.”
Have you ever had one of those moments when it seems like ice water just runs through your intestines and you are frozen with fear and trepidation to the point of not being able to react? That is how my wife has described how she felt at this very moment. “Excuse me.” My wife’s thoughts must have been something along the lines of: “Oh no, what was going to come out of his mouth next? Can I stop him? Darn it, I forgot to muzzle him! Would it be inappropriate for me to try to grab him up and stuff him into my purse?”
The receptionist looked down at him, “Yes, J.T.”
Sigh of relief. Mission accomplished. Disaster averted. My wife’s dignity as a parent intact.
Husband’s reaction (in private of course): LOL! I have to admit I found the story of the whole episode amusing in a way of being amazed, and reminded, of the truly innocent nature of kids and how they observe the world.