I must have misunderstood myself

This was Georgia’s reasoning today when we got into a little disagreement over something I had said. I remembered saying one thing, she remembered me saying something completely different, and after arguing about it for a few minutes, she finally stated with some finality “You must have just misunderstood yourself.” Boy, ain’t that the truth?

The really disturbing thing is that I have these arguments with my children all the time. The conversation usually goes something like this (names have been withheld to protect the innocent):

Me: You’re not wearing your new swimsuit to swim team today?
Child: No.
Me: Shoot! I was hoping to see how it looks.
Child: It’s a little baggy, because I like how swimsuits fit when they’re a little bit big.
Me: Oh, I hope it’s not too big. I meant to remind you and Papa that the swimsuit is supposed to be a snug fit.
Child: It is a snug fit.
Me: How can it be a snug fit if it’s a little bit baggy?
Child: I never said it was baggy!
Me: Yes you did!
Child: No I didn’t! I said it’s just a little bit big.
Me: No, you said it was a little bit baggy and a little big.
Child: No I didn’t!
Me: Well, even if you just said that it was a little bit big, that would still mean it doesn’t fit snuggly.
Child: But I never said it was too big!
Me, after several more rounds of the same: big audible sigh

Please tell me I’m not the only parent who argues with their children like this! I always feel so stupid when I’m in the middle of it, like how did I get sucked into this again? Why am I arguing about who said what with my ten (or even worse) my five year old? This is ridiculous! And yet I’m right back at it the next time one of them verbalizes the slightest inconsistency.

I wish I had some keen insight into why this is, but all I can come up with is that it is the way I was raised. Woe to the person in my family who said something grammatically incorrect or logically questionable or that couldn’t be backed up with cold hard facts, as that error would be pounced upon and quickly corrected. I’m not sure it was my parents who did this so much, though, as it was my older sisters (shit does tend to run downhill). I can see this pattern repeating itself in my own family, as I hear Daryl correcting Georgia more and more often. I cringe every time I hear her do it, too, as it’s like hearing a little tape recorded version of myself played back. Do I really sound that patronizing and impatient when I correct her? Where’s the line between helping your child have high standards for the way they articulate themselves and being a know-it-all who must have the final word?


~ by jenzai on June 22, 2008.

6 Responses to “I must have misunderstood myself”

  1. It is brilliant! And I plan to use this rejoinder liberally with the Brujo at the earliest opportunity, because I feel convinced that it is OFTEN the case that he simply must have misunderstood himself. Teehee!

  2. After 43 years of living, I finally learned to recognize in myself (albeit sometimes after the fact) when my motives are to make myself feel good because my grammar, knowledge, spelling, and logic skills are clearly superior to yours. I also know how I like to be corrected when I make a mistake (which happens more than I would like to admit, because I’m not as superior as I would like to think). Unfortunately, once the ugly words are out of my mouth, it’s hard to retract them. And it’s way too late to undo the cruelty I visited upon my poor younger sisters. Can I claim that I must have misunderstood myself?

  3. All is forgiven. According to stuff white people like, we just can’t help ourselves!

  4. The amusing thing (to me) is that you’ll look back on these arguments frequently in the future, as you remember the trials it took to raise each child. I argued with both of mine incessantly, and pointed out the errors in their logic gleefully–until my son started majoring in philosophy (along with art) and could argue back, hoisting me on my own petard. Daughters can be even better at it, though, because they’ve got more of you in them; females argue with an edge that boys just don’t seem to match, because they know how to push mom’s buttons better. I survived, but then I only had the one daughter–and at 29 she still knows where the buttons are.

  5. I LOVE this! If I thought my guru wouldn’t think it too negatively phrased, I’d make it my new mantra. As I look back at so many of the decisions I made in the past, and the things I thought, or that I thought I thought, or thought I felt, or thought I believed, I can’t think of a pithier summary of my condition. Thank you Georgia! And Jen, for sharing : )

  6. Brilliant!

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