Mistaking Sincerity for Sass
By our nature and nurture, Amy and I are both pretty sincere. So, we’ve raised our kids to be sincere. I know some families are comfortable with sarcasm, but as I’ve posted about before I didn’t grow up with it, so it doesn’t really find a place in our home, except for sarcasm of the silliest kind. Also, like most kids, our children are literal. They say what they mean, and they think you mean what you say.
But sometimes, when their literal thinking mixes with their sincerity just right, I can forget who’s talking and mistake their sincerity for sass. That happened more when the kids were smaller, but the other day I made that mistake with my 12 year old.
It was a Saturday morning, and I called her inside to get cleaned up. We were headed to help set up the nursery and Sunday school area at our new church location. The plan was to be there at 11:00. My daughter asked,
“Why do we have to be there at 11?”
I was immediately irritated. Sure, she’s having fun playing outside and she doesn’t want to stop. But we had talked about this being a big help to our dear friend, the children’s director at our church. So this seemed more like a question with self-centered manipulation in mind. Still, I held my tone and tried to briefly explain.
Then she said, “You know we don’t really have to be there at 11.” To that, I replied with with unfortunate vigor,
“Just because it’s not important to you doesn’t mean it’s not important to me.” And she looked at me like this…
It’s pretty out of character for me to jump down her throat like that, but I totally did, only to find out that our friend (the children’s director) had specifically told our daughter that we didn’t need to be there right at 11. My child was literally simply passing on that information to me. She hoped I would agree to go later, but she wasn’t being disrespectful or rude… like I was.