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Friday, June 13, 2014

Children and fools speak truth

Friday, June 13, 2014 By

Look what I have.

That's right. SIX BOXES of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.

Oh, sure, I like candy. And Harry Potter. And Harry Potter candy.

But that's not why I'm so excited.

I'm excited because I get to share the wonder of these jelly beans with Emerson, my charming, precocious, intelligent child.

Those sound like really nice words to say about your child. And I mean them. But do you know what those three words, in combination, translate into for her mother?


She's 9 years old, y'all. NINE. And I can already envision the first time she chews out her manager and quits whatever crappy part-time job she gets in high school. That manager will need therapy.

So, it's my responsibility, as her mother, to teach her how to use her words wisely. Prudently. I'm not saying she shouldn't unleash flaming verbal hellfire on the occasional egregious offender. I think I've shared before that I rather enjoy a good Julia-Sugarbaker-ing every once in a while.

But y'all. It is out of control.

What I didn't realize, when I committed to raising Emerson to think for herself, to examine the world around her, and to question what she is told, is that the first thing she would question would be her own mother. But of course it would be. I'm the first authority figure she ever encountered, and I'm the one with whom she has the most familiarity. I am Patient Zero.

While I am delighted to discuss with her the merits of the various My Little Pony characters, the wonders of the natural world, and whether the stories about our founding fathers that her teachers tell her are real or myths, I do not now nor will I ever entertain the notion that I have to explain why vegetables are necessary parts of every meal at every meal. The question has been asked and answered, your honor. Let's move on.

Enter the beans. No, not vegetables. Jelly beans.

If you are unfamiliar with Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, let me tell you the one thing you need to know: These are not candy. These are implements of torture. Flavors include black pepper, grass, and dirt. I don't even want to think about how horrible the taste-testers had it when developing these things. Who taste-tested the vomit flavor? Using what?!

Anyway, when choosing a jelly bean, it's almost impossible to tell the green apple flavor from the grass. That is what makes them so diabolical. Even Dumbledore couldn't tell them apart.

So my plan is to "reward" her with "candy" whenever she smarts off to me.

"Oh, you think you're Little Ms. Funny Britches. Have a jelly bean."

"Thanks, mom!" [A look of horror crosses her face]

"Oooooh, sardines? Yeah. That's tough. Maybe you'll remember that the next time you decide to be rude."

Of course, I'm mostly joking. They'll probably sit around the house until such time as one of us decides to sneak-attack the other. Like we did once with an old clementine that she left in the back seat of the car for a week. We chased each other around the house with it for a while, then began hiding it and randomly chucking it at each other. For about two weeks straight.

Oh, all you sweet, innocent, childless moms are reading this and clutching your bosoms in horror. Adorable. Get back to me after your first child turns a year old.

And if you are thinking of having children, consider: "Are my partner and I so awesome that we need to make another one of us? And, if so, can I tolerate having a pint-sized person, perpetually less well educated and articulate than I am, follow me around and second-guess every decision I ever make?" This is the question you need to be able to answer. "Do I really desire to be shadowed for the rest of my life by a tiny skeptic, engaged ceaselessly in Socratic maieutics?"

If you mostly don't mind answering a barrage of questions as long as the Hundred Years' War, then by all means, criticize me. Judge my creative, slightly uncomfortable, but ultimately harmless discipline tactics. But if you would like - just some days - to ease through life from waking to bedtime without having an existential crisis brought on by the precocious cross-examination of your own personal, miniature Don Rickles, then you need to get yourself a supply of jelly beans.

Or ear plugs.

Of course, if I did bring home a supply of ear plugs, Emerson would just teach herself sign language. But I only know one sign. Using my middle finger.


  1. You know, I did this with my students: if they came late, they had to take a jelly bean. It worked out fine the first two days, but on day three all 20 students walked in late and I ran out of jelly beans... I was outsmarted :-(

  2. That's when you buy more beans! Never surrender!