I am in trouble. I have been warned by my mother that "You cannot use sarcasm on children, it will only confuse them." Crap. I am quite possibly the world's most sarcastic person. My kids must be the most confused kids on the planet then. I say "Seriously?" at least a half dozen times a day, and there is rarely a day that goes by that in response to some complaint about how unfair it is that they have to pick up their messes, that I don't respond by saying "I know, you guys are so mistreated." or "Yep, I am a mean mommy. Now do what I said." When my kids tell me some absurd reasoning that only makes sense in the world of those under 8, I recount it in the form of a question followed with "Yeah, that makes sense." For example, when I ask them to pick up the playroom and literally 3 minutes later they come chasing each other laughing down the stairs, I say something like "Hey! What are you supposed to be doing?!" And they say "Oops. We forgot." My reply is "You forgot? Seriously? In the 3 minutes since I told you to pick up, you forgot? Yeah, that makes sense. Get up there and get back to it." It is not entirely my fault, I am going to blame Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. See, I was raised on good, old fashioned, honest sarcasm, courtesy of Warner Brothers.
I learned to recognize sarcasm early on, to laugh at it and move on. But one afternoon with kids' cartoons these days might explain the real problem. Have you watched it lately? Everyone is so happy. And if they aren't happy, then the entire show is about how everyone is working to MAKE them happy. I know that kids' programming is fiction, and that it is only entertainment, but it give a seriously deranged look at the world and I am not sure that all of the lessons it is teaching are good ones. No lie, one of my kids favorite shows is called "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch" and it is all about this spider couple who have adopted all of these bug kids and they all live together in a tree. Yeah, that's a good lesson to teach kids. HELLOOOOOOO -- Spiders EAT bugs. They do not adopt them. Ni-Hau, Ki-Lan: Kai-Lan spends 30 minutes trying to discover why Tolly, Ho-Ho, and Rin Tu are mad and how to fix it -- in real life she would take her ball and go home. Dora and Diego are great, but I question parents who would let their kids run around all over the world with a jaguar and a monkey. Even their story lines are all about making everyone feel better -- I mean, OF COURSE all of the animals ran away from the cougar, they are what he eats. And I do not think that a real cougar would get his feelings hurt at all. Then there is "Yo Gabba Gabba" -- singing "I like bugs! I. Like. Bugs!" I am not an alarmist, but as a person who carries an Epi-pen in her purse, I DON'T like bugs, and I know that there are dangerous bugs (bees, wasps, scorpions, etc.) and there are annoying bugs (cockroaches, fleas, ticks, ants), and I don't like the idea of my kids being taught to be friends with bugs. Not that cartoons should be all about "Hey, this bug can kill you!" or that Miss Spider should eat her adopted kids, or Ni Hau, Kai-Lan should look at Tolly and Ho-Ho and tell them to get over it, or anything like that, but shouldn't there be more of a mix? Our kids are growing up to be shiny happy people who are going to fall apart the first time things don't go their way. Well, everyone else's kids anyway.
I think I will have to disagree with my mother (*gasp*). I do not believe my kids are at all confused by my sarcasm. On the contrary, I believe that through sarcasm, my kids will be ready to face the real world with the ability to laugh at themselves, make their friends laugh, and shrug off alot of what might well cripple the fragile psyche of the rest of their generation. If our kids believe that the world is full of creatures who will only work to make their lives better, then how will the handle it when their team loses, a mean kid singles them out to humiliate, or despite all of their best efforts, they fail? My kids will be able to say "Well this sucks" and move on. I do not mean to imply that I am raising 4 little cynics, I do praise them when they do well, and I reward their good behavior. But I do NOT stop life and turn my world upside down to correct every wrong that is inflicted upon them. When Bella says in her drama queen manner that William won't play with her, I tell her that I cannot force him to play with her and to play with Lorelei or Jackson instead. When William says "Bella called me stupid" my canned response is "Well, are you stupid?" and when he says no, I say "Then don't worry about it." Then I have a talk with Bella about how it isn't nice to call names. When Lorelei comes crying to me that Jackson took her toy, I tell her to take it back before talking to Jackson about not taking toys away from others. Kids need to know that they are loved, and mine do. They need to know that we do our best to treat others fairly, and that there are often consequences when we don't, and mine know that as well. But they also need to understand that the world will not cater to them, and mine DEFINITELY know that. Seriously.