Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Last Word

The last word is not always the best word, yet it lingers on the mental palette.

Sarcasm was handed out at birth in my family, with a healthy dose of argumentativeness on the side, and a little dash of stubbornness just to bring the flavors all together. Discussions and debates could erupt over whether a word was permissible in Scrabble, or which route was the shortest to the grocery store. These were important battles that needed to be won at all costs. They usually ended with a rush to find the dictionary, or a stopwatch for the next errand run.

I should not be surprised to find some of these things emerging from the gene pool in my two children.

"What time is it?" the Rationalist will ask.
"It's 2:00."
He looks at the clock and says, "No, it's not. It's 1:59."
30 seconds later,"Now, it's 2:00!"
To a 7-year-old, preciseness and accuracy are everything. They must not have covered estimation in the first grade.

Intuitive Monkey will ask,"How many more bites do I need to eat of these green beans?"
"A few more bites."
"How much is a few?"
"Three or four."
"Well, which is it? Three or four?"
"It can be either."
"Yes, but which is it?"
"JUST EAT THREE!"
"OK."

In my home, everything must be proved and wrestled into fact before being accepted by these sometimes exasperating boys. Everything is doubted until they have seen it with their very own eyes. Every mistake must be pointed out and corrected, because otherwise, it's just not the truth. Some days, I just repetitively hit my head against the wall to make the voices stop.

I have left behind some of my family ways. About the time I entered college, I realized that I didn't really have to point out errors to other people. When others would mispronounce a word, or use the wrong one, I would mentally note it and say nothing. Unproductive and pointless arguments lost most of their power over me. I still retained the desire to prove my point if faced with egregious fallacies that morally outraged me, but even those would only go so far. I learned to let the other person have the last word, even if they felt that meant they had won the argument. I would leave the discussion after making my best points, feeling that there was little left to say.

I have had an entire lifetime to restrain and refine those inherited family traits.

I live with two boys; curious, smart, and enthusiastic, yet devastatingly interested in being right ...about everything....especially things they have no idea about.

I know it's payback from my mom.

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