So far this blog has been pretty consistent. Inviting readers into a glass house and bribing them with tea and cookies, hoping the next time they’re tempted to throw stones, they remember the nice lady that served them treats and keep on walking. The irony of course, is that if I was the proud owner of a glass house, the reality of surviving a day in the life of the Cractpot household would pose a much more eminent threat than the possibility of any angry rock throwing neighbours.
Around here, we prefer the expression, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs”, because we’re good at breaking stuff (not to mention, an omelet about sums up our cooking expertise).
It’s not that we mean to; our intentions are usually good. Like the time I left for work waving goodbye to the kids and husband. Backing out of the driveway, staring up at my family in the front window, I’m slightly distracted wondering if I needed to revisit Waving 101. It looked more like knocking and on closer inspection Mr. Cractpot seemed alarmed, rather than wistful at the thought of missing me while I worked. Then again, being left alone with 3 kids for a day can sometimes be a scary proposition. I shrugged my shoulders and focussed back on the task at hand, just in time to drive over the recycling box at the exact same moment my husband finally broke the glass trying to get my attention.
Replacing a recycling bin = $20
Replacing a 30×60 window section = $120
Being able to mutter under your breath that at least when you break something, it’s not the bank = Priceless
The point is, glass is fragile and sometimes, even with the best intentions, it gets cracked.
When my first born started school, she was given an agenda to facilitate communication between parents and teacher. For us, the messages were less along the lines of “Math quiz on Friday” and “Don’t forget to sign permission forms” and more “Your Cractpot needs to pay closer attention to the lesson and less attention to her social group” and on one very special occasion, “Your Cractpot was caught using the “F” word on the school yard today. I’m not sure if this sort of language is used at home?!?”
I particularly appreciated the use of multiple question marks AND exclamation marks.
Now it’s bad enough getting caught doing something wrong, but it’s especially frustrating when you’re actually innocent. Early in my pregnancy, I argued with my husband that if we were responsible for teaching this new person I had growing inside me the human language, the least we could do was lead by example. In a flash of foresight that gave me wisdom beyond my years, I knew the last thing I would need when asking a toddler to pick up her toys for the hundredth millionth time was her articulating NO, using the kind of colour and creativity I was biting my lip to suppress. One year and one over flowing swear jar later, we had a vocabulary so vanilla you could throw sprinkles on it and add a cherry for good measure. Indignant, I called the teacher to assure her, that in no way had that language been learned at home. The teacher sympathized and assured me she understood; after all, just the other day she had caught her own son using the “J” word.
At this point I was feeling rather superior because I didn’t even know what the “J” word was, until she whispered “you know… Jesus”
I felt my cheeks start to colour because this had been known to fly out of my mouth on occasion.
Now I realize I enrolled my daughter in a Catholic school and I understand the Bible clearly states we must not use the Lord’s name in vain, but sometimes I wonder if he really meant it or if it was just a sort of exasperated afterthought on a particularly long and exhausting day. I mean, I can certainly understand the frustration of constantly being interrupted by seemingly trivial things.
“Mom, where’s my earphones”
“Mom, come look at this lego thing I built”
“Mom, my fellow cractpot is touching me”
“Mom, I’m bored”
Some day’s it’s definitely enough to want to add a disclaimer to all future conversations.
Then again, with my cractpots now taking their first steps towards independence, there is also something to be said for feeling relevant.
Looking to offer the teacher some reassurance of her own, I comforted her by saying, “don’t worry, I hear about this Jesus guy so often in Church I feel like I know him! He seems cool, I bet he gets it” … which might explain my daughter’s rather disappointing mark in religion that semester.
Regardless, it was obvious I needed to brush off the Parenting Handbook and check out the chapter on Swearing. Then I remembered there was no such handbook and it was every parent for themselves. Still, I was pretty proud of the way I handled it. I remained calm and explained she wasn’t to use those kinds of words. When she retorted that lots of people did, I was forced to elaborate. Cursing is an easy out when you’re frustrated or tired or looking for attention, but an entire dictionary of wonderful and expressive options guarantee truly intelligent people can string them together to make any point without the need for obscenities.
Later that year at a work BBQ, my husband’s supervisor happened to use a few choice words when expressing concern over the current state of our political system. It wasn’t long before our debate was interrupted by a ruckus in the basement where the kids had disappeared to play. After drying tears and calming everyone down, it was obvious from the rebellious pout and defiant arm crossed stance twe weren’t going to get anything out of my daughter so we all turned to the other child to figure out what had happened. The little girl’s beautiful eyes welled up as she looked forlornly at her dad (my husband’s supervisor) and replied, pointing an accusing finger our way, “They think you’re really dumb because only someone too stupid to read the dictionary would use swear words when there are a million other options”
Suddenly, no one had anything to say and I frantically searched for an escape, or at least a reason to avert my eyes until I could think of something. All I came up with was a muttered, “well, I think a MILLION might be exaggerating a little”
And this is why we are no longer allowed to attend my husband’s work functions.
The truth is, there are plenty of people I like and respect that could put a drug dealing rapper with Tourette’s to shame. On the same token I’d still prefer not to have my children use obscenities’ when describing how well a fellow classmate is progressing on the monkey bars. I’ve never been the type of parent to fall back on “because I said so” but how do I explain the rules when I’m not even sure I understand the mechanics of it all. What is the new normal these days? Never in church, but acceptable at work on casual F-ing Fridays? Not at primary school Christmas pageants but smoke ‘em if you got ‘em during high school graduation ceremonies? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the right call making a daughter question the intelligence of her father but I’m still not sure what the ‘right call’ looks like. I guess what I’m saying is that this glass house might always be a little shattered but we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances…besides, “blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light”*
So Shine on little cractpots and don’t forget…Hold your fire; I’ve got cookies
*quote by Groucho Marx