Questioning authority

Barb had an epiphany this weekend. She announced it was because of me that our kids always question authority. They don’t automatically believe anything their teachers, parents, or other authority figures say. She says it’s because I lie to them all the time.

I thought this was a little harsh. Sure, I tell them lots of things that aren’t true. But when I do it’s so outrageous they should know it’s not true. If asked, “Where is Leo (the dog)?” I’m just as likely to tell them, “I think there is still some left in the refrigerator.” as I am to say Barb took him on a walk. Or, real example, when picking up Xenia after school three teenage girls got in the van rather than just one. They shut the door and as I pulled away Xenia said girl number two is coming home to work on a project for a while and asks if girl number three can get a ride to her home because it’s raining, she didn’t bring a coat to school today, and her dad doesn’t have a car. I tell the girls, “No. I think she should walk home in the rain. If she gets pneumonia and dies it will just be Darwinism in action.” As I head toward girl number three’s home I look in the mirror to see the open mouth and shocked look on her face. Xenia gave me “the look” and translated for the others, “That means yes.” It wasn’t too much later that they developed a code word for Xenia to use to signal “Dad isn’t serious.”

This epiphany of Barb’s came about after Barb and I took Xenia to the Seattle wharf with a first destination of the Ye Old Curiosity Shop on Saturday. On our way there Xenia asked what was there. “Shrunken heads”, I told her. Xenia gave me “the look” and said, “No, really.” I told her, “Mummies and shrunken heads.” She wasn’t satisfied with my clarification and announced, “You’re smiling. I don’t believe you.” Barb backed me up but Xenia just wouldn’t buy it.

As soon as we arrived at the shop I led Xenia to the back of the store and introduced her to Sylvester and Sylvia. After she adjusted to them I showed her the shrunken heads. “Now do you believe me?” I demanded. She finally, grudgingly, gave me her agreement that I was telling her the truth. Of course this made my day and I lorded it over her several times later during the day. She defended herself saying she it’s hard to know for certain when I’m serious and when I’m just making stuff up. It was during one of these times that Barb had her epiphany. “That’s why our kids question authority! It’s because you lie to them all the time!”

Sunday night when we had dinner at Outback with Jaime we told the story to Jamie and she said she too would have “called bullshit” if I had told her we were going to see shrunken heads and mummies. Xenia elaborated, “Dad, you say things exactly the same whether they are true or not.”

Okay. So maybe it’s true. I’ll have take credit for raising such great kids. And all this time I thought it was because they just had great genetic material.


4 thoughts on “Questioning authority

  1. Among other things, my dad had me convinced for years that if you shaved your head, the hair would grow back curly.

  2. Actually Xenia is the one who said “Dad, you say things exactly the same whether they are true or not.”

  3. My dad’s favorite game has been to try to fool my sisters and me about various things as we’ve grown up. It’s made us all pretty skeptical of anything someone says.

    However, my little sister needed extra help from her two older sisters and we managed to convince her of several things growing up. Most notably that pop-tarts were made out of vomit. She hasn’t been able to eat one since. Unfortunately, these days she pretty much won’t believe anything I say without solid proof.

  4. A friend of mine, when very young, was convinced by his dad that a pair of socks had a right and a left sock. He spent a lot of time each morning trying to figure out which was which. (Now that I think of it, I should have tried that one on my kids)

    Later in his life you couldn’t get much of anything past him. He had received early critical thinking skills education.

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