Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't be that kid

"Dude, don't be that kid, nobody likes that kid!"

I have to admit, it's not some random 10-13 year-old talking to one of my kids, it's me. When the kid's level of personal jack-assery reaches the toxicity levels that rival a BP oil spill, I have to swoop in as Dad and set the record straight.

It can be something like eating with your mouth open (a common offense at my dinner table), or telling jokes that are both tasteless and not funny or, my personal favorite, talking over someone who is either still talking or started talking before you did. Whatever the infraction, its on me right the ship.

Now, it's also on me not to take thingstoo seriously, and its easy to forget sometimes that in a multi-child household with varied ages, the younger ones often try to say and do things to impress the older ones. This leads to strange behavior. At least in the Boys, since my daughter is the oldest and I notice less of that kind of thing from her. Its when you see that extreme, almost PAINFULLY embarrassing behaviour comes from them that you feel obliged to step in and say or do something. For their sake and yours.

There was a recent moment when my oldest son started to repeat something he heard another adult say and repeated and I just had to call it out. It seems his grandfather had a particular opinion about the tattoos that NBA players wear these days and shared how disapproving he was of them. I don't begrudge anyone their opinion, but a soon-to-be-12-year-old shouldn't have such a closed mind about such things. So when we were watching a recent NBA play-off game, he says: "... really, with the tattoos? they just look ridiculous." I stopped and stared.

Then said, "Why do you say that?"
"C'mon Dad, look at them, it just doesn't look cool..." Ok, hold the phone, when was the LAST time a 12 year old told you tattoos weren't cool!?! What's next? "Gee Dad, Video games are fun and all but I really see them as deterring me from focusing on my studies." Really?!? What lost-in-the-eternal-ether kid ever says THAT? That's when I knew I was talking to Grandpa. "Dude," I said "don't be that kid... no one likes that kid. Get your own opinion, then feel free to voice it."

I kind of liken taking someone else's opinion to having someone else's baby. Sure, it's ok to hold it, but if you're going to go through all the motions and effort, wouldn't you just want to develop one of your own? You still have to suffer similar long-term repercussions. My kids taking their grandfather's opinion of tattoos is like me asking them what career choice I should consider next. While video game testers and space fighter pilots are cool, they aren't practical. Nor, ultimately, very original.

It may seem that I am putting serious adult commentary on what is seeming to be a harmless little statement about tattoos. For all I know, he simply may be mortified at the prospect of Tattoos, seeing as they involve needles and such but I don't think so. Being your own man is something every boy needs to learn for himself. How he learns it is as varied as the people we meet but in the end I would rather he used the muscle he's got pinched between his ears.

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