Friday, February 03, 2006

Nature or Nurture?

At some point in almost every parents’ existence, they realize that they have adopted some or all of the same mannerisms that they disliked so much in their own parents. This can come in the form of yelling strangely catchy, but benign phrases that we have no intention of following through on, or on the opposite extreme, it might be physical abuse.
This dissertation in poor parenting skills focuses on the former, though may touch on the latter.

Before you scoff and yell at your monitor, “Not ME!”, really think about it. Do some soul-searching. You may have pushed it to the back of your over-taxed brain, but it is there, in a dusty corner, ready to rear its’ ugly head when you least expect it.

For me, these moments come when I’m chastising one or both of my mutants-from-hell. As if from a distance place, phrases like, “Don’t MAKE me come in there!” pass my vocal chords. Or, one of my favorites, “I’ll put something on you that AJAX won’t take off!” My kids don’t even know what Ajax is, not to mention what kinds of stains it removed from bathtubs in commercials from the ‘60’s. Now, to be perfectly fair, this is more likely to be a case of nature, rather than nurture. I mean, my Mom said the first phrase quite often, but I can say with a clear conscience that she never once uttered the words, “I’ll beat you like a redheaded step-child!” together in a sentence. Especially THAT sentence.

I, however, have and do. Being a redhead myself, that was one of those phrases that made me raise an eyebrow at the person who had uttered it. I was an adult before I realized what the significance of being a redheaded stepchild was. I am no one’s step-child, and my youngest son is also a redhead, so you might think I’d avoid hackneyed euphemisms like that one and many others.

But NO. I can’t remember where the disgustingly graphic [warning!] idiom “You are slower than owl snot dripping off a doorknob!” came from. My father frequently intoned, “I’ll skin you alive!”, but in the twenty-first century that phrase has lost its punch. From a refrigerator magnet I stole: “I’d slap you, but shit splatters”, but that makes me feel guilty for swearing, and my rug-rats are still too young to grasp the visual images that it raises for someone who has been hit with fresh manure.

I do a fair imitation of a growl, deep in my throat, like a mother tiger warning her cub not to use its’ claws. That only seems to work on the cat, though. Unfortunately, this unsuccessful threatening behavior - like the sentences in quotes preceding - generate nothing more than giggles. My kids think I’m hilarious. Nothing puts a damper on righteous anger faster than children pointing and snickering behind their hands.


Blogger Netzgarten said...

Thank you for visiting me on my Blog erarly this morning - 7:o8 AM German Wintertime (10:o8 PM at your Place?)
I enjoyed reading your Blog - What happened to that little mouse - is it still your guest?

Netzgärtner Kurt
Hamburg - Germany

10:35 PM  

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