We went on a field trip today to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I love the cathedral and have visited many times -- my brother was even ordained there. The field trip was through a homeschooling field trip group to which we belong -- all homeschooled kids from babies to about 6.
When I go into public with my kids, I feel like Greg Focker in the water volleyball scene from the movie Meet the Parents. They are playing volleyball and he keeps missing or flubbing shots and everyone gives him a hard time about it -- he finally gets mad and spikes a shot -- it hits the bride-to-me right in the face. "Its only a game, Focker" is derisively yelled at him. He can't win. When I'm out with my kids, I can't win -- I'm either too uptight and people give me the vibe that I need to relax or I'm too relaxed and I encounter uptight people who want me to rein in the kids. I don't really enjoy going out in public when its just me and the kids because of this -- plus, its exhausting, but I joined the group because my girls like it and maybe I can learn how to behave. When my DH is home, we often go out but that's a different dynamic -- I have a helper and an ally.
At the end of our field trip, we went into the gift shop. I was worried about my kids and breakable things but my kids are not destructive so I wasn't too worried. There were some toys my kids were looking at, but I moved them along so I could look at some sale books.
An older woman sidles up to me as I'm thumbing through a picture book. She says something along the lines of "kids don't understand sarcasm. I know because I'm a grandmother. Its a big 'no-no.'" I don't know what I said to her, maybe something like "oh, okay." I was trying to think of what I had said that was sarcastic. I figured I was already being sanctioned for being a bad mom and that admitting that I had no idea what I had said would be further evidence of bad mothering. I was also thinking that my oldest is beginning to learn what sarcasm is because we've discussed it. Only about 40 minutes earlier, she had actually asked me "mom, are you being sarcastic?" Again, I thought this is probably evidence of bad mothering since it would show that whatever sarcasm I had just used was not an isolated incident. Thus, I went with "oh, okay."
I seriously picked my brain for the next hour trying to identify what sarcasm I used. I think it might have been when my younger DD was looking at some soft, stacking blocks and she showed them to me. I said something about them being nice and maybe I said "just what I need, more toys in the house" or something to that effect. I'd also argue that I wasn't actually saying it to the child, but I'm guessing that muttering sarcastic comments around the kids is another bad mother indicator.
I agree that belittling comments are not to be used with children and that can include a certain kind of pointed, mean sarcasm. My sarcasm tends to be light-hearted and along the lines of "oh, just what I need." I also talk to myself -- out loud -- a lot. I know I've used it at home when my DH is around and he lets me know when I'm out of line, so I think I'm okay, but I'm interested to know what you think.
Oh well, its probably karma from the non-pregnant woman incident.
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