Because Sometimes It’s Your Kid Who Steps On The Duck at the Petting Zoo
I’m not much of a swearer. Of course there are times when I think it, feel it, say it outloud. There are times. This week has been one of those weeks, when I’ve needed to release my frustration, and needed the appropriate expression to do so.
Recently I invented my own ‘swear word,’ as noted in the title of this post, ‘Ay Carappa!’ a hybrid of the familiar ‘Ay Caramba!’ and ‘Oh crap!’ . Ay Carappa for me feels exactly expressive of what I want to say under my breath in exasperation in the face of life’s many small challenges, because there is something funny about it–with a slight edge. I’ll leave the real swearing to those so inclined. The heavy-duty 4-letter standbys don’t really make me feel any better for using them, they just act to expel ugliness from one’s insides, I think.
Parenting is challenging–on the one hand, full of beauty, humor, and great reward, and on the other, limit-pushing, frustrating, all-consuming, and complex. For me it is always important to pull myself away from the difficult moments with as much soul-searching perspective as I can muster, and to remind myself that all of these hard things can have a humorous side as certainly as we can learn from them.
Yesterday I went to pick my Kindergartener up from school, with a picture book in hand to loan his teacher, a family favorite called “The Noisy Farm.” The whole kindergarten has been studying farms, and yesterday morning they were to have a visit from a real live Petting Zoo, right on the playground. As I was passing the book off to the teacher she told me that my son was not getting his daily reward ‘zoo buck’ today because twice he had stepped on a duck in the petting zoo–she thought on purpose. And she emphasized her disappointment with “I can’t stand when people are cruel to animals!”
My son, cruel to animals. Grrrr. Yes, I was mad, yes, I let him know. He explained as we climbed into the car that the first time had been an accident, and the second time someone told him to (told you to step on a duck!?). I wanted to use the old “If someone told you to jump off a bridge…” line on him but I didn’t. I just asked “Who is in charge of you?” “You.” I learned on cross-examination that the someone who told him to ‘step on the duck’ was another boy who tends to be known for mean behavior, not someone that L usually wants to play with or act like. When I pointed this out to him, he agreed that he didn’t want to be thought of like this other boy.
So on to home, and to following up.
Here’s the ‘sorry’ note L wrote, on his own, phonetic spelling and all.
Word for word translation: “Dear Mrs. “B” I am sorry for stepping on the duck.
(Star Wars Battle scene illustration) signed, “L”
I don’t know about L, and how sorry he really was, but his note did make me feel better, especially the sorry little duck’s face. I’d like to think that L’s regret is expressed as clearly there as anywhere, and as far as the battle going on below, I’m just happy that most of the time my son chooses to be one of the ‘good guys.’
By the way, I looked up Ay Caramba’s definition before I wrote this and laughed when I read: “euphemism for ‘Oh crap!’ ” on one internet dictionary site. So Ay Carappa it is, with two p’s for emphasis.