• Jennifer Hastings

The Apple Doesn't Fall From the Tree

Updated: Oct 9, 2019


One of the things I love most about my husband is his complete and utter honesty and one of the things that can drive me crazy about him is his complete and utter honesty. He doesn’t play by the rules… he says exactly what he thinks when he thinks it. He calls a spade a spade and usually does it with flair. More times than not, these “comments” he makes can lack social niceties and tack. He makes life interesting.

They say opposites attract and maybe deep down in my soul, I do wish I could be more like him and say what I am thinking without a care in the world. And maybe deep in his soul, he would like to be more politically correct… nah, I don’t really believe that for a second. I think he loves more than anything to make me blush with his colorful comments. Before we had kids, it was easy to laugh at his crazy shenanigans, but fast forward a few years and now we have three sets of little ears listening and acquiring new language at a frightening speed. This makes me extremely nervous because you never know what children are going to repeat or when they will choose to repeat it. Believe me, I’m a teacher, I know the kinds of crazy things kids say. I can only imagine what my kids say at school knowing they have had unsupervised conversations with their father. And yes, his mouth needs constant supervision.

We have been in a bathroom humor phase at our house and I’m looking forward to leaving this stage. Unfortunately, Carter is only three years old and his sisters are teaching him all their father's silly jokes. At any given point around our kitchen table you might hear:

Caroline: Guess What?

Me: What?

Caroline: Chicken butt?

Me: Oh, please!

I hope this story will paint you a picture of what I’m dealing with at the Hastings’s household.

“Go get your folder, Claire.” I say. Trying to get the nightly routine going. I glance through her folder and my heart sinks. Your child may have been exposed to pinworms...I skim the rest of the letter... all the while feeling very grossed out and concerned about the slight possibility of her having pinworms. I have a flashback to my health occupations class in high school... I remember reading about pinworms. They come out at night. You can check for them by shinning a flashlight under the covers and you can see them! I mean they are actually visible. I try to imagine myself checking to see if Claire has them but I can't stomach the thought... I would absolutely loose it! I glance at the clock, too late to run get pinworm medicine now! I'm not even sure what the treatment is, but I would have paid a handsome penny for the remedy right then.

Claire is starting to get nervous as I am pouring over her notice from school. “What Moma? What does it say?” Claire asks looking up at me with concern. Claire is my worry wort and even at four years of age this character trait is very predominate in her little world, she is so serious and intuitively knows this letter is not good.

“Oh, nothing! It is just a letter saying someone in your class was sick and they wanted us to know in case…

“In case, what? In case I get it? What is it? What is it? Do you think I have it?” Claire’s imagination is going crazy and I feel stuck.

“You don’t have it! It is nothing to worry about!” I walk over to the trash and throw the letter away in front of her as if to say this conversation is over.

Fast forward three hours

“Bedtime!!! Let’s go!” I’m walking behind Claire as she slowly climbs the stairs delaying bedtime as much as she can. Wait, did she just...NO...she reaches down and begins to scratch her bottom! The worms! Oh, no!!!!

I feel the panic rising inside me. Surely she doesn't have them. Stewart tries to talk me off my ledge. I have trouble going to sleep. All I can think about is getting the flashlight and walking upstairs to check...but I can't do it.

It just so happened Claire was getting a sinus infection (a few sniffles) anyway, so needless to say we were the first appointment the next day to take care of the "sinus infection". The doctor and I managed to talk in code about the pinworms and she was none the wiser. He eases my fears and tells me to go ahead treat her if it will make me feel better. That is all the encouragement this neurotic mom needs to hear, Claire will be wormed within the hour.

***********************

Saturday morning pancakes are underway. The syrup is dripping off Caroline’s chin and Claire is reaching for another piece of bacon.

“So, Claire, you get rid of your buttworms?” Stewart asks her grinning at me knowing how torn up I've been at the unlikely possibility of her having worms.

My eggs stick in my throat and I give Stewart the evil eye.

“Daddy quit teasing me… I have an earache not… well, what you said.” She can’t even bring herself to say buttworms. She keeps laughing though like it is the best joke in the whole world. (The more inappropriate his comments are, the more my kids like them.)

Stewart keeps asking her if she still has the buttworms? I’m cringing inside as these words fly around my kitchen.

I had been working with Claire to distinguish between her daddy’s teasing and the truth for a few weeks prior to this incident. Daddy is just pulling your leg. Don’t let him get your goat. These idioms took some explaining, but she is finally starting to get it.

No one is paying any attention to two year-old-Caroline who is playing in the kitchen floor quietly soaking up all this new language and filing it away.

The following week the kids visited their grandparents one afternoon. I pull into my parents' driveway to pick up the girls. My nephews are there too and the kids are running wild.

I get the rundown about the day's events. An enormous amount of junk food was consumed and apparently, that is the job of the grandparents, to indulge their sweet tooth. It is my job as the mom to feed them vegetables. Then, my mom pauses for a second and leans in a little closer and says, "Do you know what Caroline said today? Tyler, Trae, and Claire took off running and Caroline couldn’t keep up. She gave up chasing them, put her hands on her hips, and yelled, “Come back here, you little buttworms!” Mom raises an eyebrow as she looks down her nose at me. Butt was a four letter word in our house growing up and bottom was the only appropriate word for your rump.

I fumble through an explanation as to where my sweet Caroline could possibly have come up with a phrase like that.

This was my first clue that Caroline is like Stewart! She likes the shock factor. As my mom was telling me this story, Caroline had slowed down and was pretending to play while she listened nearby. She was proud as a peacock and my cheeks burned with embarrassment. My precious, beautiful two-year-old daughter called her sister and cousins buttworms. Oh, my! I really am in for it with this one.

This led to countless jokes with buttworms worked into every one! I eventually had to get outright mean and outlaw the word buttworms in my house. It was a little too late though because the damage had been done. Caroline had her first taste of shocking people with her words and she began to crave the attention that comes from offering a funny comment. Don’t worry, we have had many conversations about what is appropriate and what is not!

The way I see it, in parenting there is a fine line between nurturing the child’s natural born personality and helping them distinguish between what is socially acceptable and what is not. There is a lot of learning to be had around our house, but these little life lessons are quite memorable. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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