1. I was being sarcastic!
Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, and I use it all the time. At an early age, my son learned to recognize sarcasm and now he successfully deploys it with lines like, “I can’t wait to go shopping for a blazer for my school graduation.” To which I respond, “Oh, cool. I think we’ll have fun.” “I was being sarcastic!” he returns. “I would rather have needles poked in my eyes!” Clearly, he is learning at the knee of the master.
2. You know junk food is bad for you, right?
When I’m having a bad day and decide a can of Coke Zero would brighten my life, S never misses the chance to tell me about the ill effects of junk food. This invariably segues into a description of a YouTube video that shows a bottle of Coke being boiled down into a blackened, gooey substance that would be perfect for tarring a roof. This is payback for all the years I told him eating Nacho Cheese Doritos would turn his intestines bright orange.
3. I don’t get it. What’s funny about that?
There is a particularly odious tween show called Drake & Josh that causes S and his best friend to howl with laughter. (Happily, this show has been canceled, but there seems to be an endless supply of reruns.) When forced to watch replays of the “funniest” moments, I have often said, “I don’t get it. What’s funny about that?” Now whenever I show S something funny, he retaliates with exactly the same phrase. I find this so deeply irritating that I have even tried—and failed—to find the humor in Drake & Josh.
4. I need some ‘me’ time.
Every parent has probably said this at one time or another, usually when they’re so desperate for time to themselves that they lock themselves in the bathroom with a book and an egg timer set for 20 minutes. Somehow, with my son, “me time” has become any time that he is either evading homework, his household chores, a conversation about his day at school, or has been told he has five minutes to get ready for swim practice.
5. Oh, man! When was the last time you brushed your teeth?
Like many boys, S used to delight in being smelly. Suddenly this has become a sensitive topic, so now he has decided that whenever I have a spicy, garlicky dinner—admittedly often—he can call me out on my bad breath.
6. Why do I have to do everything?!
This lament is heard whenever S is asked to pick his sweatshirt off the floor, take his dinner plate to the sink or his backpack to the car. Oh, honey. Just wait until you really are doing everything.
7. When my friends come over, it’s not a playdate. We hang out.
For years, S would refer to my friends coming over as a playdate. As in, “Why do your friends always drink so much wine when they come over for a playdate?” Very recently S has decided that he himself is too sophisticated for playdates, although hopefully no wine will be involved for many years to come.
8. I’ll be in my room. I need some space right now.
A close cousin to “me time,” this is usually accompanied by the door to his bedroom being slammed shut. I swear I have only said this when I had a crushing headache. Not, for instance, when I felt like lying in bed reading comic books for two hours.
9. You’re wearing THAT again?
S wears a long sleeve T-shirt, sweatpants and Vans to school every day. I used to try to get him to mix it up a little. Then he started pointing out that I wear the same thing every day—grey pants, white T-shirt, black down vest. Point taken.
10. Could you try throwing the ball at me and not over the fence?
Whenever I make an errant toss—even when it’s nowhere near going over the fence—I hear this line. And yes, he did learn it from me back in the days when his arm strength had no correlation with his ability to throw the ball in a specific direction.
11. Somebody needs to see their hairdresser.
“Wow, you need a haircut,” I’ll say, running my hand through his hair. “Wow, you need to see a hairdresser,” S will say holding out some of my grey hairs for me to see.
This one word is capable of expressing a wide range of incredulous disapproval. “Seriously, you expect me to eat spinach pizza? Seriously, you expect me to watch a documentary about Missy Franklin, a girl?! Seriously, you think I’ll be excited about doing my current affairs project?” Okay, so I may have overused that one a few times myself. At least he’s a fast learner.