I think that most people have a mechanism in their body that acts as a filter between the brain and the mouth. The purpose of this mechanism is to review the thoughts in the brain prior to those thoughts escaping through the mouth, and trap them if the thoughts are inappropriate for sharing. Most kids have this mechanism, but at a young age it is faulty and allows a lot of questionable verbiage to slip through. I believe, where my boys are concerned, this mechanism is completely absent.
I’m not talking about a mechanism that would keep my boys from making disgusting noises or talking about disgusting things at inappropriate times. Boys are born with an extra dose of gross factor, and there is no filter in existence that can keep those thoughts and noises from escaping. I tend to think of these types of verbal and other excretions as a toxic cleansing, and required to keep my boys in good health. And, to them, there is nothing funnier than burping at the dinner table or talking about poop when people are eating. And laughter is the best medicine right? Yes, I am delusional but work with me.
I am talking about a mechanism that kicks into action when you see something that is so atypical, so worthy of comment, that everything in your body is trying to make you comment. You don't because the mechanism knows that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. This is where the filter is lacking in my boys. One of the points that I have been trying to get across to them for years is that words have consequences, and although they think something is funny it could seriously hurt someone else’s feelings.
Take for example my son Jack. Jack has always liked big bellies. He thinks that people that are overweight look great. As long as I can remember he has wanted a big belly. When he talks about people’s big bellies he is doing it approvingly, although they would have no way of knowing this. We have tried to get this point across to him, telling him most people do not want big bellies and that it would make them sad if he told them they had big bellies or talked about their big bellies. He has been trying his best to remember this and not give overweight people his “complements.”
Here are some of our classic blunders:
We were eating out one day when a loud woman walked in with her equally loud children. Of course they caught our attention. Jack asked, “Why is that daddy yelling at his kids?” Did I mention the woman looked rather manly? I said, “I don’t know, it’s none of our business, and that is their mommy not their daddy.” “It is so their daddy,” Jack continued to argue. Change the subject, quick! So we moved on to something else. That is, until the family walked by our table. Jack proclaimed loudly, “I told you that is the daddy!” This is the point that I stared directly at my food and pretended not to hear him. What do you do in a situation like that? Especially when the person your child is insulting is obviously capable of inflicting serious pain to anyone he she is unhappy with.
Another dining out experience (Most of our verbal blunders take place at restaurants. I wonder why that is? You think we’d learn our lesson and not eat out.) resulted in Jack saying the wrong thing by trying really, really hard not to say the wrong thing. I saw it coming; I just couldn’t stop it. A couple walked in, and the gentleman had a very large belly. I saw them, and saw Jack watching them. They got closer, and closer, and closer. Jack was in mid-sentence about something else, so I thought they would be able to pass safely by our table. But, with classic use of run-on sentences, his normal conversation was interrupted right when they approached our table with, “And I’m not going to talk about how big that guy’s belly is.” We gave him an A for effort, and then later explained to him that yelling that you aren’t going to talk about someone’s big belly right in front of them is still talking about their big belly.
At the bank one day, I was standing in line with Luke and there was an elderly woman in front of us that thought Luke was cute and started talking to us. Luke said, “She looks like the Emperor.” As in the Return of the Jedi Emperor. For those of you who have never seen Star Wars, being called the Emperor is not a complement. And is it wrong of me that I couldn’t help chuckling? It was so unexpected.
We are not Catholic, but will attend Catholic Mass with John’s family on Christmas Eve when we are in Jefferson City. One year when we attended Mass, Jack was a little over 2 years old and hadn’t spent much time in church yet. In Catholic Mass, there is an order in which the congregation has specific responses to greetings and prayers spoken by the priest or bishop. A few minutes into it, and in a moment of silence, Jack spoke very loudly (Why are inappropriate comments always spoken very loudly and during a lull in the surrounding noises?), “Why do we have to say everything that guy says?” That got a chuckle from several rows of surrounding churchgoers.
And never, ever try to tell a little white lie when my boys are within earshot. Especially to a police officer when you have been pulled over for speeding. They’ll rat you out every time. But, that’s a story for another day.