Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rebel Without a Tongue

Rebel Without a Tongue
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

Kids' brains work in amazing ways. At times, they can grasp complex concepts and make impressive discoveries. Other times, you have to wonder how we ever survived as a species.

My kids have come up with lame excuses for some of their behaviors, which makes me question their intelligence. Or wonder if they question mine.

Recently we were at a restaurant when my five-year-old son started acting up, My wife scolded him, and he responded with something he had never done before: he stuck his tongue out.

We teach our kids to be respectful of others, so this was a big no-no. So when she got on his case about it, I could see the little wheels spinning in his mind, and he latched on to the first excuse he could think of.

"I was thinking about my hamburger, so I licked my lips because I was looking forward to it."

I turned away so he wouldn't see me laugh. I wanted to say, "Kid, if that excuse was any more lame, it would ride on Bob Cratchit's shoulders and say 'God bless us everyone.'"

When we pointed out the feebleness of his excuse, he knew he had been busted. But that didn't stop the problem. As my wife continued her lecture, my son put his chin in his hand, cupped it in front of his mouth so she couldn't see, and stuck his tongue out again. So I had to get involved.

It was funny to see my son trying to be sneakily defiant, launching his very own secret revolt. As if I couldn't see a little kid three feet away, sticking his tongue out from behind his hand.

I could almost read his thoughts: "I'll only stick it out a little bit. Mommy won't see, but I'll know I'm doing it, so I'll win."

You just can't keep a stuck-out tongue a secret. No matter how hard you try, you can't stick it out a little bit. There is no "little bit" when it comes to your tongue. It shows. It sticks out like a little pink neon light that says, "you're not the boss of me." And there's always a mom or dad who says, "wanna bet?"

Every child goes through a minor rebellious phase. I know I did. One day, my mom was scolding me for something, so I thought, "I'll show her. I'll stick my tongue out a little, and then I'll win."

I stopped doing it because it caused a sharp pain on my rear end, roughly the size and shape of her hand. After that, I never stuck my tongue out at my mom. Once I tried sticking it between my teeth, but not actually out. Turns out, that causes a sharp pain on the rear end too.

But I also knew that when I was in my room, "thinking about what I did," she couldn't see a thing. That's when I stuck my tongue so far out, Gene Simmons would have gasped in amazement.

I was also the king of lame excuses when I was a kid.

Back in the day when teachers still spanked kids, I was often on the receiving end of a yardstick whack from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Jefferson.

Each afternoon, we would march down to the cafeteria, wait in line, and get our lunch. After lunch, we went back to the classroom to hear the recital of the litany of our sins that resulted in someone getting a whack out in the hallway at least once a week.

One day, I decided to antagonize one of my classmates in the lunch line, and started blowing on his face. When we got back to class, one of the other kids ratted me out.

"Mrs. Jefferson, Erik kept blowing on Kent in the lunch line." said the little ratfink.

"Erik, why were you blowing on Kent?" Mrs. Jefferson asked me. My mind raced for a suitable answer. One that would save me from a whacking.

"Uhh, it was cold in the cafeteria, so I was trying to keep him warm?"


While that didn't necessarily stop my youthful shenanigans, I did learn not to come up with such stupid excuses. That's not to say I didn't become a first class BS artist as I got older. I just got better.

If my son is smart, he'll learn that you can't out-BS an old pro like me, or that overt displays of rebellion are going to get you into trouble quicker than you can say "you can't make me."

I just hope he figures this out before he learns what his middle finger is for.

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