Parenting small children can be tough. But what’s important is work with the challenges, and turn them into teachable moments.
Yesterday morning, Phoebe came to me and said: “Theo just called me ‘stupid bad Phoebe.’”
“Theo!” I scolded. “Is this true?” Theo instantly dropped to the floor and hid his face from me, an apparent admission of guilt.
“Theo, that’s a hurtful thing to say. Those things are just not true.” Theo continued to avoid looking at me.
“What’s more,” I continued, “your choice of words is both unoriginal and uninspired.” I whipped out the thesaurus. “Look here, Theo. Instead of ‘stupid,’ there are plenty of other words you could have chosen: brainless, doltish, simpleminded, half-witted, thick-headed..obtuse! Now there’s a good one.”
“Obsoot?” Theo tried, tentatively, still face down on the floor.
“And instead of ‘bad,’ you could have used…let’s see…beastly, deficient…inferior, atrocious, substandard…Putrid! There’s a nice colorful word. How about putting beastly and doltish together?”
“Beasty goldfish?” Theo turned to look at me.
“Or maybe we can learn from some famous insults…” I quickly googled famous insults. “Ah yes, here we go: “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!” Nice! But, no, no. That won’t do. Let’s not insult me! I’m your mother, too. Ooh, how about this? “You warthog-faced buffoon.” Yes, that’s the way. But better yet would be to make up your own. Think of an animal…or maybe a vegetable. Monkey…turnip…You can combine them with adjectives, like “doltish monkey” or “simpleminded turnip.” Or make compound nouns. How about calling her a substandard, simpleminded turnip-nosed monkey face? Brainless waterbuffalo? Putrid potato head? The combinations are endless! You just need to use your imagination.”
“Now, I want you to give Phoebe a hug and say you’re sorry,” I said sternly. “And next time you insult your sister, I expect to hear something more creative.”
I’m going to borrow from Neil, here, and give a truth quotient. Let’s say 50%. I’ll let you guess which parts really happened.