Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Teacher Lady and Small Children: Who is the Messer and Who is the Messee?

On Christmas Eve, I got to spend some quality time with my cousins' children. I have two wonderful cousins, Kyle and Kristen, (yes, they are siblings and no, their parents didn't hate them) and they each have two wonderful daughters. Kyle has Octavia and Sybill and Kristen has Rachel and Haley. All four girls are blonde and under the age of six. As far as kids go, I like them. They're about as well-behaved as kids can be and plus, I don't spend a lot of time with children so what the hell do I know?

First, let me explain some things. No, I don't have children of my own - that I know of - and no, that doesn't mean I hate all children. I just hate yours. No, just kidding. Oh, Teacher Lady, put DOWN that vat of eggnog, you silly!

For those of you who are new around here, I will review: When you don't have children and you don't burst into tears every time someone asks you when the wee rugrats will make an appearance in your life and you're not actively filling out adoption paperwork, people then assume you don't have children for one reason and one reason only: You hate them. Are you kidding me? I LOVE children! I think they're especially delicious served with Fava beans and a nice Chianti. Kidding. Again. Sheesh!!

Kids are the same as other grown-up human beings as far as I'm concerned. Some are funny. Some are cool. Some don't dress so well and some are just really annoying. Some are bossy and rude and some always seem to have really bad breath. Some, I think I can say with some confidence, will end up on the front page of the Times because of their involvement in an Enron-type scandal and you can almost always tell which kids those are within five minutes of meeting them.

Since I think kids are basically smaller adults with shorter attention spans and worse haircuts, I try to treat them like smaller adults with short attention spans and worse haircuts. None of this goo-goo gah-gah crap for me! No sir. Just basic conversation.

In my experience, children are fascinated by the only adult in the room who is not interested in them. That adult is usually me. Again, not because I hate children, but mostly because I don't know what to talk about. "Hey, Timmy. How's your car? I just got my brakes replaced. Guess how much THAT set me back? Oh, you'd rather pick your nose than have this conversation with me? Okay, never mind. You and your crusty nasal fluid just go back to enjoying each other."

When I arrived at my aunt's house for Christmas Eve, Sybill (who is 3) ran up to me and yelled, "BOO-yah!" Wow. Pretty political for a three-year-old, but you're never too young to support our troops. "That's the spirit!" I yelled. "Go MARINES! BOO-yah!" Sybill looked at me like I had just vomited on her, burst into tears and ran away. Kristen had witnessed this whole thing. I just looked at her. "What? Okay, Aunt Kristen. What the hell did I just do?" Kristen rolled her eyes. She then pointed at the television. "ROO-dolph! Not BOO-yah! Rudolph. Sybill loves Rudolph. All she wants for Christmas is a stuffed Rudolph. You just scared the crap out of her. Congratulations." Okay then.

Later we were all playing a card game and I was trying to get Rachel to help me cheat. When you're 36 and you cheat at cards, people hate you and you never get invited back. When you're 4 and you cheat at cards, it's freakin' adorable. Mostly. Unless you're Jeff Skilling, Jr. and then it's a completely different story. Rachel was sitting next to me and I couldn't reach the deck of cards so I asked her to pick two. She did and then handed them to me. They stunk. (The cards, not the kids.) "Now Rachel, these are very bad cards and Santa is going to be VERY unhappy with you." Kids are so dumb. Sarcasm is totally wasted on them. Without missing a beat, she took the cards back to the deck, slipped them back in, pulled out two new cards, handed them to me and walked away. All very stealth-like. Kristen, Rachel's mom, witnessed the last few seconds of this transaction. "What just happened?" she asked me. I acted all innocent. "Nothing. I just told her she got me some bad cards and Santa was going to be very unhappy with her." Then I did feel a bit guilty. "I didn't think she'd believe me. What? Did I like, totally traumatize your kid?" Kristen was laughing so hard tears were pouring down her face. "Are you kidding? I think that's hilarious!"

See? It's genetic. Unwarranted sarcasm and emotionally manipulating pre-schoolers? It's in our blood.

At one point, Rachel and I were coloring together. She stopped coloring and then looked at me very seriously. "Can I tell you something?" she whispered. Now this is my kind of kid. Totally up for gossiping with virtually unknown relatives. I looked around for signs of interlopers. "Yes," I whispered. "Hayley is really stupid. She doesn't even know the words to Jingle Bells." Then she stared at me to see my reaction. I totally understood. From one big sister to another, I completely got where she was coming from. I nodded. "Yeah. Little sisters are usually pretty stupid." She looked at me and smiled, extremely satisfied with my response. "Yeah. Only Mommy and Daddy don't know it yet." I looked around. "Don't worry," I whispered back. "They will. It's only a matter of time." Vindicated, she asked if she could use the green crayon. I handed it to her. Coloring carefully, she said, "Hayley doesn't even know what color a Christmas tree is. She thinks it's blue." I rolled my eyes. "God, what a dumb-ass."

Okay - everything up until the "God, what a dumb-ass" comment is true. But don't think I wasn't tempted. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I don't have kids. And also? Why you should never let me near yours. Today's magic phrase is "'Bad influence."




Blogger Lady Strathconn said...

Except (as a future breeder) I maintain that every kid needs a (slightly wacky) "cool aunt". That aunt does not actually have to be an aunt, she can be a second cousin or mom's best friend. However, the "cool aunt" is different than the "cool uncle". Cause he's just rough and tumble, if he starts talking to the kids like the "cool aunt" or buying them cool gifts, then he becomes the "creepy uncle" and while everyone has one, no one really wants one.

Rock on Cool Aunt Teacher Lady!

December 29, 2006 2:50 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Eldest children rule.

I'm all in favor of being childless. I was for 37 fun-filled years.

But here's the thing: now that I have children, why do I still keep hearing "Aunt Jenny might say something inappropriate"? Why am I still a bad influence? I thought having kids would get me labelled a good influence, but apparently not. I don't think it has anything to do with that "drunk at a wedding story" I told over Thanksgiving that my 1 & 2 year old didn't understand, but my niece and nephew .. did.

A person can stop being childless, but once a bad influence, always a bad influence.

December 29, 2006 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kids and cats are always attracted to Pman...neither of which he has any interest in. LOL!

December 29, 2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

Oh, I laughed so hard. Thank you for this.

December 29, 2006 10:24 PM  
Blogger Just another student said...

There' no special magic to talking to kids. Just use shorter sentences. Topics would be similar to grown up topics. Ask about hopes & wishes, ask about school, ask about their friends. Asking what their favorite of anything is a good one too. Younger kids can use the same topics but the attention span is shorter. For toddlers, keep it to whatever is in their immediate world. Ask about the toy in their hand, the picture on their t-shirt or whatever. "Gee, this cookie is yummy!" is witty and urbane to a toddler. "Elmo is COOL!" generally works too.

(Yikes, I've worked too long at the daycare!)

December 31, 2006 1:37 AM  
Blogger Mamacita said...

Hahahahahahaha, I think I adore you.

December 31, 2006 2:29 AM  
Blogger Samantha said...

I think you and I have the same way with kids. I met some new ones over Xmas and I think they like the whole 'uninvolved' adult.

January 01, 2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger Peach said...

I'm a new reader. I totally dig your blog. LOVE IT. And I have grown convo's with my son. I dont do the goo goo crap. "I KNOW YOU HEAR ME IN THERE DONT TRY TO IGNORE ME!! Oh I see you're in here trying to be a rebel hu?" He's not even 2 yet. LOL

January 02, 2007 7:43 PM  
Blogger David Schraub said...

I'm pretty sure Marines say "Hoo-yah." "Boo-yah" is what Stuart Scott says after a slamdunk on Sportscenter.

January 02, 2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Peach said...

actually i was in the military..marines say HOO-RAH and Army and Airforce say Hoouh (thats how it sounds not sure on the spelling)

January 03, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Happy 2007, Teacher Lady!

I enjoy playing with other people's kids most of the time, too, but I always feel the urge to clarify that HEY, just because I like playing with YOUR kids doesn't mean I want some of my own!

(Kind of like when I complain about how cold it is, someone always says "But you're from New York!", to which I am required to respond, "Just because I'm from NY doesn't mean I LIKE the cold!")

January 03, 2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger allrileyedup said...

Emotionally manipulating pre-schoolers is in everyone's blood, even the parents. Some are just less open about it than others.

January 04, 2007 4:19 PM  

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