One of my worst traits as a mother is that I’m incredibly sarcastic with my children. The best thing about them, though, is that they don’t understand sarcasm. This results in me sounding like I’m a very good mother. Let me give an example:
Daughter, age 2: Mommy, can you help me go potty?
Mommy, age 37: I can think of nothing I’d love more than to help you go potty.
See how that works? I’m being really mean but it comes off really nice to a sarcasm-impaired toddler.
Or when my 4-year-old presents her latest outfit, she asks me what I think. What do I think of the black-and-red ladybug galoshes paired with bejeweled tights, a pink Indian sarong, tie-dye t-shirt and purple wrap? I love it, of course! My girlfriend told me that she worried about scarring her eldest by giving actual opinions on her mis-matched outfits. (And believe me, my friend can give opinions! Whoo boy!) This resulted in her daughter having trouble trusting her instincts as well as she can. I figure my daughter will figure it out here soon enough through her copious observation skills. And if she puts her own flair on things, all the better. And all this is possible through sarcasm! Or, more accurately, my children’s inability to comprehend sarcasm!
When the girls built a completely dangerous contraption of a doll house balanced on a table, with some sort of stage for barbies on top and then tried to stand on it, I said it had been a “brilliant idea.” It was a horrible idea! But if I’m that mother who’s always telling her daughters to “be careful,” they’ll start listening to me and checking themselves instead of learning the old-fashioned way — through bruises.
The whole problem, of course, is that time is running out before I become the worst mother in the world. The definition of sarcasm is not positive:
harsh or bitter derision or irony.
2. a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review
Yikes! Who wants to be bitterly derisive or harsh with their children? I don’t. I need to figure out how to transition into actually kind mother in a jiffy.
I don’t know why I’m so sarcastic with my children because I actually don’t like too much of it in my adult relationships. My husband’s family is constantly sarcastic and it took me years before I felt like I wasn’t witnessing abuse when they spoke to each other. I really don’t want my children to feel like they’re on the receiving end of a bunch of negative criticism from their parents.
Perhaps it will be easy to transition, though. I should love helping my beautiful daughter learn how to master the potty. I should applaud my daughter’s independence and unique sense of style. I should encourage the girls to take risks.
Maybe sarcasm’s greatest trick will be to teach me what I should have known already about these girls.
In any event, I’m resolving to stop being so sarcastic and find genuine joy in all of my children’s foibles.