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When It Comes To Funk, I Am A Junkie.


Tonight Ben graduated from first grade and for some unknown reason the school had a ceremony to commemorate it. Now, I’m not crusty enough to bitch about having another graduation party, honestly I didn’t care, and in fact I was pretty thrilled about it. I’d gotten him a gift (Puma socks, which inexplicably he wanted) and had it all wrapped and ready.

Problem came when he decided to be an asshole today.

He has a nasty habit of turning into a know-it-all about stupid shit. Like today, for instance, he argued with Dave about taking him out to dinner beforehand. He was, for some reason, convinced it was lunch we were taking him to, and snottily informed Dave of this.

Now, I’m fully aware that I happen to be wrong now and again (but not TOO much, of course) and I’m ready to admit it when I am. But the meal that happens roughly between the hours of 5 and 7 PM is generally known as “dinner.” He then argued with us about other stupid piddly stuff, because at 6, he knows FAR more about, well, everything.

This bothers me tremendously because it reminds me of my favorite blog punching bag: Nat. It makes me wish I v-logged so that I could say this phrase to you in the same sneering tone: “Well, ACTUALLY Becky…blah, blah, blah.”

Nat is the world’s biggest know-it-all and it drives me fucking nuts. I’ve fully accepted that he’s my cross to bear (lucky, lucky Aunt Becky) and I don’t generally pay it much mind. My bed has long been made and I tend to sleep pretty damn well in it.

I can accept that he’ll run late every time he says he’s going to be somewhere, not caring a bit about how it affects my day.

I can accept that he’ll complain about the “crappy clothes” I send Ben to his house wearing. (The funniest part of this is that I send Ben in the clothes that Nat buys for him. Why? Because I spend “money” on “clothes” for Ben to “wear” because I’m a fucking “label whore.” Oh yes, yes he did. And I never, ever get the nice clothes back.)

I can accept that he’ll probably never really show up to a school function for Ben, preferring to do whatever it is that Douche Bags do in their spare time (buy vinegar and scents?).

What I cannot accept is listening to Nat not politely disagree with me with that fucking phrase: “Now ACTUALLY Becky.” It sets my teeth on edge, because 99% of the time he uses it to point out an obvious flaw, no matter HOW much I know about a subject and how sure I am of whatever it is, he’s completely wrong with his retort.

I hear people say incorrect shit all the time like it’s a fact and you know what? I never really disagree with them, pointing out that they are wrong. To me, it’s just not worth making someone else feel badly. Nat doesn’t care at all. He probably gets joy from making me feel bad.

Hearing it come out of Ben’s mouth like that just inflames me and I have no idea how to deal with it properly. It pisses the usually mild-mannered Dave off too, so I know I’m not alone in this.

But how the hell do I deal with this without wanting to punch myself in the face? I don’t care if you have kids this age or not, how would YOU handle this?

33 Comments to

“When It Comes To Funk, I Am A Junkie.”

  1. On May 22nd, 2008 at 9:08 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    My two oldest kids are the children of an ex and I know what it’s like to divorce someone and then go on to raise and adore his children who may sometimes look and act just like him.
    It’s weird and it’s hard sometimes but you know what? Your child is NOT the ex. He may act like him, but he’s not him.
    And you have to remember that.
    And somehow you have to make peace with the ex. Not for HIM (God knows) but for yourself and your children.
    I’m not just saying this- I have personally done it and it is one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done in my life.
    But it takes time. A lot of time.

  2. On May 22nd, 2008 at 9:09 pm Jerseygirl89 Says:

    Gee, maybe I should come back later when people far wiser than I am have shared their opinions, because I have no good ideas. When I taught kids that age, I made them go look things up. And if they fought me on school rules, I’d send them to the principal – not as a punishment, but to ask the principal about the rule. I’m not sure how that would work at home, though.

  3. On May 22nd, 2008 at 9:26 pm Tombo Says:

    I’d punch Nat in the face, after baiting him into giving you the ‘well actually’ speech.

    Sure it doesn’t solve anything, but I guarantee it makes you feel better. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s about? 🙂

  4. On May 22nd, 2008 at 10:05 pm Juli Says:

    My niece was that kid. EVERYTHING was “well, ACTUALLY…” We finally told her she was not allowed to say any word she could not spell. It worked long enough for her to outgrow the know-it-all shit.

    Kept her from eating mostaciolli for almost a year, too.

  5. On May 22nd, 2008 at 10:30 pm Emily R Says:

    It is hard to see someone you hate in someone you love. It must make you feel so frustrated and angry. I have no advice, just sympathy.

  6. On May 22nd, 2008 at 11:17 pm Heather Says:

    You know, I am SO not a silver-lining kind of girl, but there is one to this anecdote. In the very least, you should be glad that you had the sense to NOT marry NAT. At least you can ignore him to a degree. Poor Ben on the other hand, I don’t know. My boy drives me freaking insane over similar I-know-everything crap. I’d go all parental in that situation, I’m sure, by ruining the graduation party and dinner so I’m not one to assvice on this one — but hopefully someone will lend something helpful so you don’t have to smash in your lovely face.

  7. On May 22nd, 2008 at 11:49 pm Kristen Says:

    My eldest was a ‘actually’ kid too. Unfortunately for most adults, he was almost always right. Even his teacher in Grade one told the other kids that if B said it, it was probably right. Damn photographic memory.
    Thankfully this behavior did not remind me of anyone I despised and we found it kind of cute. Not so cute at 13 though.
    I think it is more an age thing for Ben rather than a ‘like Nat’ thing. I am sure he will mostly outgrow it. In the mean time, just remind yourself that you hate it so much because it reminds you of Nat. So you can separate your feelings and deal with it.

  8. On May 23rd, 2008 at 12:07 am Kyddryn Says:

    Hmm…knee jerk reaction…

    You don’t speak to your parents in that tone, or on that manner. Even if they tell you the sky is hot pink with green spots, you sit there and quietly let them alone with their madness. You don’t get snotty, ever. There is never an excuse to be rude or disrespectful to your Mum, and if it keeps on you will begin to lose privileges and be locked in the closet until you are moldy and grey. OK, maybe not that last bit…

    Meanwhile, I am a fan of the “look it up” tactic – because sometimes I am wrong, and I’m OK with that. More often I’m right but it takes a third party to convince The Evil Genius of that. If I say it, it’s suspect – if the Discovery Channel says it, it’s gospel. Kids want to feel smart and important, and knowing something that an adult doesn’t is just the best! They’re also quite attached to their reality, and can easily convince themselves of something even when it’s obviously not so. Lucky they’re cute, or we’d drown them in a sack.

    Anyway, there’s always duct tape, if he gets too out of hand…

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  9. On May 23rd, 2008 at 12:13 am Jenn Says:

    I honestly DO NOT KNOW because I’m pretty sure that I’d be reacting the same what that you are! I cannot stand being corrected and the only person who can correct me without pissing me off is Kent (not that he dares to do it often). My son will ask me when we are driving somewhere, “Mama, are you LOST? Are you sure? ‘Cause I think this is just the wrong way” and it makes me soooo angry I just turn the radio up half the time. Argh. Now I’ve gone off on a rant.

    I agree that it’s probably an age thing and he will outgrow it. What kid doesn’t think they know everything, really?

  10. On May 23rd, 2008 at 6:43 am Frozen Star Says:

    I agree with those who’ve said he’ll probably outgrow it, though I wouldn’t know crap about children, since my own childhood isn’t all that far behind me. And yeah, I never did quite ‘grow up’. Anyway, to me, it sounds like you’re a wonderful mother, so I think that you, with time, will be able to teach him that being condescending is just not nice. Remember, you’re the one that cares enough to be there, show up at school functions and stuff like that, meaning that you have loads more influence on Ben than Nat does. And as we all know, you’re awesome! That’s gotta count for something…

  11. On May 23rd, 2008 at 6:43 am SciFi Dad Says:

    Like others, I think this is a temporary thing, and I also think it’s part of growing up… a lot of kids go through something similar.

    I think there’s a line between correcting and disrespecting, and I think you need to maintain that line quite clearly, especially for a young kid like Ben. Don’t let him get away with being rude to you (but also, don’t let your frustration make you be rude to him either).

    Other than that, I’ve got nothing.

  12. On May 23rd, 2008 at 7:26 am Karen Says:

    Somehow impress upon him that he cannot speak that way to adults. I guess the “somehow” was what you were actually looking for, huh? Sorry. No ideas there.

  13. On May 23rd, 2008 at 8:01 am Tony Says:

    hmm…taser gun? mace? ( I mean for Nat, not Ben).

    I am not yet a parent, so this is all theory but I wouldnt let him get away with it. If he gets that tone, he’d deal with punishment of some sort. Event if his statements are technically correct, the moment he decides to be an asshole, he is now wrong. I was like that when I was a kid (side effect of being brainy kid who didnt socialize easily) and my mom had none of it. She made it pretty clear that no matter what I said, mom was right. You, unfortunately, have the added bonus of that Ben will learn from Nat how it is he thinks he can treat you and others. It sounds like for whatever they say about a child needing their father in their lives, they dont if he is a prick.

  14. On May 23rd, 2008 at 8:13 am kbreints Says:

    Oh yeah– I think that wouls drive me crazy too– Henry already knows Everything ans he is 3! He will ask a question ans if he does not like the answer- he will disagree with me! The nerve of a 3 year old!

  15. On May 23rd, 2008 at 8:21 am T Says:

    “that tone” has become a fairly common statement used with our 4 year old. She started getting “snotty” so we sat her down and told her that this is a tone of voice that will earn her an instant time out. (Because it is not about the content of the statement, it is about how it is said.) And whenever we hear it we say “that tone” as a warning and if the next word out of her mouth isn’t “sorry” then she goes in time out.

    My friend recently almost ended her marriage over a fight about cream cheese. You need to remember it’s never actually about the cream cheese.

    You have a problem with that phrase. It’s not about whether or not he is right or wrong, it’s about how he’s saying it.

    Sit him down, tell him that “well actually” is no longer a phrase in his vocabulary. Tell him that the attitude that he has when talking about it is not acceptable. Give a clear consequence for the next time he does it and then follow through. Consistently.

    Okay I have clearly misrepresented myself as someone who knows something for long enough.

    Good Luck.

  16. On May 23rd, 2008 at 8:49 am Ample Says:

    As the mom of a frequent contrary-ian (she’s 7 yo) who continually mystifies me with her “well actually” statements (example: I say “wow, I bet that tree is 100 fee tall.” she says “no, it’s 101” – WTF!), I have had the occasion to practice many responses ranging from blowing my shit to plain stultified silence. So far what’s worked best is when I just turn to her and ask “are you trying to be contrary? what are you trying to achieve here? what do you really need?” this seems to mystify her right back and she either just shrugs and moves on or comes to me for a hug (which is my favorite). Course…. some days, I just gotta raise my beer to her spirit and ride it out.

    As for as the Nat look-a-like issue, I think your little Ben is normal for his age and it’s Nat who is grossly stunted and immature. Hang in there sister 🙂

    ps: I’m a first time reader, like your blog!!

  17. On May 23rd, 2008 at 9:15 am Amanda - The Mom Crowd Says:

    My youngest can only say three words, but I am with T on this one:

    “Sit him down, tell him that “well actually” is no longer a phrase in his vocabulary. Tell him that the attitude that he has when talking about it is not acceptable. Give a clear consequence for the next time he does it and then follow through. Consistently.”

    I think the hardest part is being consistent and catching it each time. And the consequence needs to bring some sort of pain (produce tears), so he gets the message.

    The good news is that you can nip it in the bud now, rather than when he is a teen. You can’t really spank a 16 year old, but you can a 6 year old.

  18. On May 23rd, 2008 at 11:36 am Rayne of Terror Says:

    I would probably respond with, “I don’t know who you think you are talking to son, but I am your mother and you will not use that tone of voice with me.”

  19. On May 23rd, 2008 at 11:37 am CLC Says:

    I don’t know how to deal with that. But I feel your frustration:)

  20. On May 23rd, 2008 at 11:42 am RhoRho Says:

    I pray to gawd (and i dont pray) that I never have to deal with what you are, and I really have no intelligent advice. My four year old is freaking me out, reminding me of myself – as a teenager. We are currently trying to “nip it in the bud” by instilling a certain amount of fear. Not beating or anything! Just “You don’t talk to yo momma like that or else…” I’ve seen people try to be buddies with their kids and it doesn’t seem to work. In fact, if they respect you, you’ll be better friends in the end anyway.
    And I agree with you; i hear people say stupid non-sensical shit all the time and i dont have the heart to tell them. Why purposely make someone feel like a dumbass?

  21. On May 23rd, 2008 at 11:57 am Chris Says:

    When my children get like this, I just stare at them quizically and say, “Wait I know that you know that you’re talking to your dad, right?” After, this I usually get a bowed head and an apology, but this method didn’t happen over night. It was years of practice and conditioning.

    When something like this happens, my wife always say that they got that kind of attitude from me.

    The main thing with struggles like this is to stand your ground. And when the dust settles, you need to talk why his behavior is inappropriate.

    Of course sometimes you also need to check your own state of mind during that time because you also have to know when to just take a deep breath and walk away.

    Hope this helps Aunt Becky.

  22. On May 23rd, 2008 at 12:45 pm Heather Says:

    He’s six. He’s going to think he’s right all the time. That’s the age. I learned a phrase in Al-anon and I LOVE it… and live by it… “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

    If he wants to call the meal between 5 & 7 lunch instead of dinner so be it. I think the only time I would take issue with it is not when he’s wrong but instead when he’s disrespectful.

    HOWEVER… I’m not to that stage yet so I’m not sure how to teach him the difference besides to say that he is allowed to disagree with you but he must be “polite” in how he does it.

  23. On May 23rd, 2008 at 1:54 pm Doc Says:

    Well ACTUALLY Aunt Becky I am a pretty big know-it-all too…

  24. On May 23rd, 2008 at 2:22 pm Edward Says:

    All I can say is that I don’t handle this type of thing very well. Nope…I hate know it alls and it pisses me off…even if it is my kid and she is 6! I usually have to say something but it doesnt seem to make a difference.

  25. On May 23rd, 2008 at 2:51 pm Lisa Says:

    I have to agree with some of the other reply’s I think it is an age thing. My daughter is nearing 6 and has the same attitude in fact we have had the same argument of the is it lunch or dinner several times. Usually I just give up walk outside light up one of my finest Marlboro’s and I feel much better. Yes, I know I am going to die of lung cancer and I promise to quit by the time I am 40. I also plan on being in shape and beautiful by then. HAHA

  26. On May 23rd, 2008 at 3:07 pm Gail Says:

    My four year old has this habit sometimes. First line of defense is “THE LOOK” and a very stern “Excuse me?” The usual result of that is hanging his head and sheepishly saying “yes, Mom”.

    If that doesn’t work, it’s straight to time out until he can learn to stop arguing and be respectful. Usually only take a few minutes.

  27. On May 23rd, 2008 at 3:31 pm theramblinghousewife Says:

    I have no idea . . .

    That is a REALLY, REALLY tough one . . .

    I would probably teach Ben something equally annoying to say to his father regularly.

    You got me on this one, girl! 🙂

  28. On May 23rd, 2008 at 5:08 pm heather Says:

    Ugh, I HATE it when they take on the same attributes you hate in their other parent. My daughter gets so lazy in the summer so that she doesn’t even want to get dressed. I will some day pick her up from her dad’s house at 8 pm and neither him nor his wife will have gotten dressed all day. He’s also a financial nightmare, and he has my daughter defending his poor choices, which makes me afraid that she really thinks it’s ok to be drowning in debt.

    Your story about the clothes reminds me of them too. When my daughter was 3, her not-yet-stepmother gave her a coat for her birthday. She wore it until she turned 4, when the still-not-stepmother wanted it back to use “at their house”. I wouldn’t give it back, so when she spent the night at their house the next time, she wouldn’t give me back the Christmas outfit she had worn over. I got in a fight with her dad about it, got the outfit back and ever since then, for 10 freakin years, they won’t let her bring home anything that they or anyone they know gives her. I used to buy her extra clothes at the goodwill to take over because, like you, the good stuff she wore over never seemed to come back. She even wore home underwear that was 2 sizes too small for several weeks because they didn’t want to buy her new ones, and just started swapping the small ones with the ones she was wearing over. It’s ridiculous. They have more money than we do, but they also have 2 mortgages, and 10 cars, 2 of which are brand new and have payments. I’m not joking. But they can’t afford to buy underwear.

  29. On May 23rd, 2008 at 6:46 pm quietgirl? Says:

    Well I definitely have seen the later scenario, where parents have developed strong bitterness against their kids by viewing them as too much of the other parent. I don’t know what to suggest, but I’ll think about it a little 🙂 Good luck!

  30. On May 23rd, 2008 at 6:54 pm honeywine Says:

    Oh oh oh…damn! Makes me consider a sperm donor, but M. would probably still have the kid quoting Picard.

  31. On May 23rd, 2008 at 8:38 pm tash Says:

    My kid isn’t here yet — thank god because if I had to do know-it-all with knock-knock jokes and some potty training regression, I’d throw myself in front of a bus. BUT, occasionally when she says something wild (and her case it’s WILD, you know, “Dora’s coming to sleep over tomorrow!” or something) I a) go along with it in a chipper manner, which I would expect would really piss the eff out of someone if they eventually caught your sarcasm, or b) put on my “hmmmm,” face and question her. I do all this gently because she’s not yet four, but I could see myself doing this exact same smarmy thing to an adult if they were really grating my cheese.

  32. On May 24th, 2008 at 9:39 am birdpress Says:

    I think you have gotten some great advice here. I tend to agree with those who think you should choose your arguments and not bother arguing over things that don’t matter in the long run. If he loves to argue, arguing back may reinforce it. If he wants to call dinner lunch, maybe say something like, “Well, then we’re having lunch at dinnertime today” or something. If he continues, I’d just ignore him. I’ve notice that ignoring people who want to argue can work pretty well at getting them to shut up.

    Sorry your ex is such an ass.

  33. On May 25th, 2008 at 9:45 am gingermagnolia Says:

    I have had problems like this after my kids visit their dad. They come back thinking that they don’t have to listen to what I say. It always takes a few days to get back to normal around here. I’m so glad that he lives far, far away and I don’t have to deal with him on a weekly basis.

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