Thanks, But No Thanks
By Karen Nuelle on February 21, 2014
Parents are always trying to teach their children how to behave appropriately and not like a pack of wild animals. We explain the rules of society and hope that respectful interactions will follow. Nobody has a baby and says to themselves, "I sure hope he's a real jerk someday!" (I said "jerk" instead of another word, but you all know those people and have more colorful terms for them, right?)
Last month my younger son had a few friends join him for a birthday party. I bought Thank You cards for him to send, but not until a week or two after the event. So we were already behind in the etiquette timeframe, but what the hey? He sat down after a little prodding and wrote out each card, sealed it shut, and addressed it. Actually he didn't quite address it. He wrote his friend's name on each one at the very top of the envelope, most likely screwing up the automated postal service sorter and delaying mail deliveries to all of the people in our area. Sorry 'bout that.
The cards sat on our counter for another week because we were out of stamps. Yep, even the Christmas Santa Claus ones had been used up. Finally, days later, the food-stained envelopes hit the road and were delivered to children who had probably forgotten what it was they'd given for a gift in the first place.
So, that is that, right? All finished, everyone's happy, and we are on to the next event. Except... my son has a sense of humor very similar to mine. So you know that can get us all into a bit of trouble. I've already written about how sarcasm genes are passed down through the generations and I can see that my younger son will follow in the footsteps of my ancestors.
I got a text from my friend regarding the note that was sent to her twins. She sent me a picture of the card because her family was laughing at the content. In his desire to be funny, or just honest, my son may have been offensive as well. Here's what it said:
Thank you for the chemistry set, I have made poisons and different explosions.
I know you couldn't blow up the school because I think that (is) illegal.
Thank you for the gift and it was fun to have you at the party.
I know Jacob probably thought most about the gift but thanks for the effort.
Obviously, the comment about blowing up the school is a concern, but he clearly knows he'd get in trouble for that, and being the "square" that he is, I immediately forgot about that part. But, the "thanks for the effort" comment???? Oh. My. What a jerk (this is where another descriptive word could be used)! My eyes rolled to the heavens and I sighed that familiar put-upon-Mom-sigh and massaged my temples.
I asked my son if he thought that line might have offended a friend. He looked perplexed but agreed it maybe sounded rude.
So what do you do when your child says something funny but inappropriate? We've all had those moments where you hide your laughter because you don't want to encourage your child when they inadvertently say something hysterical. The snort-cough, the hand over the mouth, leaving the room... you know. My friend told me that she recently had to employ these tactics when her son explained that "homosexual" meant you "stayed home alone with your parents". Ohhh-kay. Huh. I was not aware.
Maybe some of it is a boy-thing, or just a thank-you-card thing, I don't know. Logan's friend sent a similar one last year that said "Thank you for the lacrosse head and the gift card to the lacrosse store, even though the amount isn't enough to pay for a new stick". Yep, we are all so grateful!!!
Last night we had him write a new card just for Katy, apologizing if he'd hurt her feelings. I think it says something like, "I didn't know what I was writing, so sorry! See you soon!" Eh, it's a start. At this rate, he can offend all his friends and then he will be living alone with his parents when he's older.
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