Last month my mentor assigned Robert Wilder’s Daddy Needs a Drink. With reading assignments tailored to what I’m writing – in this case, humor – I approached Wilder’s book with an eye toward subject matter and paid attention to how his material compared to my own, especially in terms of gender.
Before I even placed the order for his book, I perused the reader reviews. What can I say? I was overcome with curiosity and needed to know how the average Schmo received “an irreverent look at parenting” in book form. That’s what I’m writing, right? Lots of irreverent pieces about my family.
For the most part, people loved the book. They laughed and appreciated the honesty of Wilder’s words, probably because they were knee deep in their own little kids when they read it. Either that or they maintain the ability to recall what it felt like to be a new parent and understand that toddlers are, at times, uncontrollable and challenging. Yup, the readers ate it up and appreciated Wilder’s irreverence.
But there’s always one in every crowd, isn’t there? The one who pipes in with a message of disgust that lets the world know that they are a smarter, better, more pious and evolved person than the rest of us. Wilder recieved a few angry reviews from these people and I thought, Well, I guess I’d better get used to the Beulah’s of the world writing angry reviews of my work if I plan on publishing. Then I thought, It says right there in the title, “An irreverent look at parenting” can’t these people read?
Today, approximately one month after reading those reviews, I experienced my own angry commenter. After 2.5 hours of sleep and nursing a fever, I opened my e-mail and found this response to Candy and Cussin’:
“What is wrong with wanting kids to be polite and well-behaved? Normally you’d expect kids to only take one piece of candy. You should thank that lady for trying to raise your child. And calling names? Thank goodness that it wasn’t my child, or that I wasn’t that lady. I’d be embarrassed if I where you” Eva.
Eva. Eva, Eva, Eva… is this even your real name? Fess up; its Beulah isn’t it?
I’ve never responded to hate mail before and don’t plan on doing so in the future but seeing as you’re my first, I’ll celebrate your angry rant. Allow me to answer you in the form of an interview.
What is wrong with wanting kids to be polite and well-behaved? Absolutely nothing. As parents, this is the goal David and I are working toward each and every day. In fact, our children know to say please and thank you and do so quite often. In addition, they are well versed in dining etiquette and regularly place their napkins on their laps before consuming their organic roasted asparagus and braised chicken thighs with cremini mushrooms.
You’ll have to forgive my two year old’s moment of indiscretion on Halloween night. You see…she’s two.
Bedtime was approaching and she’d been walking through a dark neighborhood filled with snow and a barrage of sensory experiences for an hour. I agree, most people do expect children to take just one piece of candy yet, in the family-oriented neighborhood where we were trick or treating, there were a whole mess of people encouraging kids to “go ahead and take two.” I don’t know about you, Eva, but I’d be hard-pressed to find many two year olds able to understand why some houses give out two and some just one. Also, if you see a toddler approaching and you’re firm in your “just one” policy, then pick one out of your bowl and hand it to said toddler to avoid confusion or strained candy budgets.
We’ve repeatedly tried to explain the collapsing world financial market to Kate, hoping she’d apply her knowledge on Halloween and approach candy collecting with some semblance of awareness. What can I say…my two year old is an idiot?
You should thank that lady for trying to raise your child. You’re right, of course. Clearly we aren’t doing enough as parents. The ballet classes, the art projects, , Mad Science, Jukado, reading to them for 30 minutes each evening, bathing them, feeding them healthy and nutritious food and trying to make sure they enjoy childhood rites of passage like trick or treating whilst clad in costumes that weren’t purchased from a discount department store makes us horrible parents. We simply aren’t raising our children properly, if at all.
That woman sitting on her lawn chair in a darkened driveway that grabbed my two year olds wrist and tried to pry her fingers apart did her best, dammit! She tried but let’s face it, Kate is doomed.
And calling names? Thank goodness that it wasn’t my child, or that I wasn’t that lady. Yes, Eva. Thank goodness! You seem to infer that if Kate was your child, you might have beaten her with a hot poker right there in that lady’s driveway. Are you suggesting that if you were that lady you might have physically harmed my two year old child or yelled at her? Well, Eva…again, thank goodness you weren’t that lady because you would have experienced my size 7 shoe kicking your ass. Yes, I just said “ass”.
I don’t know where you live, but in my neck of the woods (The United States of America) it’s generally frowned upon to beat children,not to mention, illegal.
For the record, I sternly reprimanded my two year old daughter, apologized profusely and said thank you to Stingy McCheapo. Personally, I’m not a member of the club that thinks pouring Tobasco sauce on your kids’ tongue is a good idea. Plus, I think Kate might be a bit young for that type of punishment. To each his own.
I’d be embarrassed if I where you – Somehow, your statement leads me to believe this was your first visit to No. 7. If you’d been around awhile, you might have some semblance of understanding that yes, I’ve been entirely mortified that our little girl latched on to a naughty word. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be horrified but if I can’t look back at this phase with a bit of humor, then I’m in for a long ride.
By the way, it seems that by the end of your rant you were getting rather hot under the collar which led you to make two serious grammatical errors. You forgot a period and its “were” not “where.” Check yourself.
In the interest of time, for those of you (EVA) who don’t quite get the gist of irreverence, let’s brush us on some simple vocabulary courtesy of Miriam-Webster.
ir·rev·er·ent adj \-rənt; -vərnt\
Definition of IRREVERENT
: lacking proper respect or seriousness; also: satiric
Examples of IRREVERENT
He has a delightfully irreverent sense of humor.
<irreverent behavior during church services>
Origin of IRREVERENT
Middle English, from Latin irreverent-, irreverens, from in- + reverent-, reverensreverent
First Known Use: 15th century
Related to IRREVERENT
Sadly, while I can supply you with a simple definition, I’m unable to beat you over the head with it with the hope you’ll develop a sense of humor. In your case, I think its best if you forget Narragansett No. 7 entirely. You’re clearly a very literal person who read my humor piece and assumed that, at my house, we’re walking around dropping F-bombs and swillin’ cheap beer while our dirty unattended saggy diapered toddler eats nothing but hot dogs mixed in Wal-Mart’s generic macaroni and cheese and hollers “ahhssole” at…well, people like you.
While the above scenario would be mildly entertaining if one were watching a comedy (Randy Quaid’s family in Vacation and Talladega Nights come to mind) I too would be horrified to know that this is how people really live. There’s something nice about walking away with some understanding that I just watched a funny movie about fake people. I get it, Eva. I do. Some people have a hard time understanding satirical writing. It’s a complicated blend of reality, sarcasm, humiliation and humor. You get or you don’t.
Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.