Friday, January 20, 2006


I've been doing a lot of babysitting of late, though there are no babies involved, really. The youngest of my three cousins is four and her sister and brother are seven and ten, respectively. I've been keeping them while their mom and my mom, sisters, have been going about cleaning out their father's house, which has been vacant the last couple of years. He had a massive stroke in 1987, I believe, which left him unable to speak and partially paralyzed on one side, but in good health otherwise, living on his own. He's an alcoholic, and some years later, after a particularly good binge, injured his foot on a rusty bed spring but didn't take care of it. It became infected, turned gangrenous, and soon the leg had to come off, just below the knee. Eventually more would be amputated above the knee. He's a smoker, which is so bad for healing, circulation. Still, he was able to live by himself for several years more, though he probably shouldn't have. Eventually the same thing would happen with his remaining leg and he had to go into a home. Since then the house has sat empty. So the daughters are cleaning it out. My brothers, the twins, might be moving in, to fix it up.

So I've been keeping the kids, Sally, the four year old, most of the time, because she's not in school. The other day she and I were having a snack, apple slices with peanut butter. We were both happily eating, thinking our own thoughts. Sally spoke up.

"Don't tell anybody what I'm about to say."

"Ok," I said.

"You're a big loser."

She cackled, wildly pleased with herself.


Diane K. Martin said...

Paul, it horrifies me, really, how cruel kids can be. Some think of them as sweet little creatures, and I'm sure some are. But I remember sitting in the playgrounds when my son was little and listening to the things they said and feeling each nasty comment like a little stab wound in my heart. Yeah, the best thing, if you're smart (as you seem to be) would be to have a sense of humor about this. But honest, I kept thinking, is it any wonder that grownups do the things they do?

kerleyack said...

Based on experiences with my 5 & 3 year olds, I would guess that it's something she heard on television... repeated it to a parent... and was told not to say it. That is most likely why she asked you not to tell anyone. The only channels my kids are allowed to view are PBS Sprout, Disney, and Animal Planet. They also get to watch movies that I've bought for them (though, I have introduced them to Star Wars.) Even with these supposedly "clean" and "wholesome" selections, they've still picked up things like...

1. "Idiot"
2. "Shut up"
3. "Whatever"
4. "Fine, I'll just call the police and you'll go to jail."
(Personal Favorite)
5. "You want a piece of me?"

I get on to them, but unlike the phrases above... my reprimand is quickly forgotten.

My personal opinion...

She asked you not to tell because she trusts you, and she said it because she thought you would laugh too.

I agree that kids tend to be mean to one another. It's a miniature guerilla war of egos whenever you get a bunch of kids together. Each one is out to show their supremacy by undermining the confidence of those around him/her via underhanded and ruthless tactics.

Damn...that's a long comment. Work sucks.

Melissa said...

I laughed at her comment, probably because I have one nephew in particular who keeps a backpack of sarcasm-arrows at all times. Had he said this, he would've laughed because he'd have prepared you for a wonderous non-existent secret and loved being able to get your attention only to clobber you then for listening. I assume she was having good fun.

This same nephew I speak of asked me to "pull" his finger the other day and damn if I wasn't about to do it, until I suddenly noticed the excitedly-raised, Jack Nicholson-esque eyebrows he had and his intentions were revealed. I could not believe my guard was low enough that I almost fell into his trap.

As well, standing around a bonfire during the holidays, he remarked that he might like to "put some gas on a fire." Immediately, I set into lecture about how dangerous that would be and how one should never, ever do that because the fire could blow back on him and burn him severely.

He listened intently, nodding that he understood.

Then, when I finished my five minute lecture with "I mean it... don't ever do that," he said, "Well, that wasn't the kind of gas I was talkin' about."

Kids will be kids, eh?


Steven D. Schroeder said...

So it's probably bad when I pull this trick with my family, then?

shann said...

who isn't?

Paul said...

Everyone should know that I, personally, thought it was hilarious, as Sally is hilarious and the most verbally gifted child I've ever seen. Her language skills are amazing and this little bomb was delivered with such dry, deadpan nonchalance it was a thing of beauty.

My response?

I made a fist, showed it to her, and said, "See this?"

She just laughed and went back to her snack.

Anonymous said...

I stand by my initial reaction. Sally is my hero! There is a girl with spunk. You could use some spunk. ;)

LKD said...

Gee, I was more horrified that you TOLD, Paul. (Don't tell anybody, she said.)

And you didn't just tell anybody. You told EVERYbody.


Spunk? Hell, yeah. The girl's got spunk. Must run in the family.

CAN you keep a secret, Paul?

C'mere and I'll whisper one of mine in your ear.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now let's look at this rationally. If Paul could keep a secret then we wouldn't be subjected to so much of HIS spunk.

Sometimes one should keep a lid/zipper on their spunk. On the other hand, sometimes they shouldn't.


Naturally though, this is why we all like him so much.