Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Capt. Obvious vs. Super Sillypants

"The superhero in me
is tired" by Brett Jordan
"what are you doing, Mom?" she asks.

i am putting Mickey Mouse chicken nuggets in the microwave to cook for lunch. again. by this point, it should be pretty apparent what Mom is doing – to the 1 1/2-year-old much less the 5-year-old asking the question. in previous days, i would answer her with the same. but today, with an "you've got to be kidding me" pause before slapping the microwave door shut, i decide i'm tired of playing Capt. Obvious to Ms. Rhetorical Q. Princess.

"i'm making cardboard."

there's a pause while she searches my face to see if i'm for real. then her face lights up with the joke. "hee hee hee! that's silly, Mom." yes, yes it is. and so was your question, Obvious Girl!

you get this a lot, right? i thought maybe it would end at 2-1/2 years old. but, no, here we are plowing through the books you're supposed to read before kindergarten and haven't yet, and we're still getting the questions.

"what's that?" "what are you doing?" "why?" "how come?"

for awhile i fell for it. no more. my Capt. Obvious cape is being relegated to the superhero wardrobe of secrecy. from now on, when i hear a ridiculous question, i am donning the invisible-power-outer underwear of Super Sillypants to fight fire with fire.

"why is it raining, Mom?"
"because monkeys are jumping up and down on the clouds."

"what are you making for lunch, Mom?"
"tree bark."

"are we driving in the car, Mom?"
"nope. we're in our battle spaceship hovercraft. watch out for that alien by your window."
"no, that's Daddy!"
"that's what you think..."

there's a general rule of parenting underlying this strategy, of course. one i have to remind myself of routinely in the middle of those hectic days where my only wish is for deafening silence. here's the rule: don't get angry, get silly. with young kids, you can choose to have a fight. or, you can choose to roll with the silly stage and, in so doing, do what adults do – keep everyone in the sane zone.

this seems obvious, right? why choose a scowl when you can choose a smile? but we all know it's not that easy. just remember, when you ask that question of yourself, "what the friggin' hell, kid?!", play Super Sillypants to yourself: "a family of monkeys produces monkeys. what did you expect?"

remember, too, that there will be a stage in life where you will actually miss these questions ... well, maybe.

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