My Life As an Idiot

So three year old Mary Tyler Son said to me yesterday morning, “You don’t know a lot of stuff, Mom, do you?”  What the what?  Oh no, he didn’t.

Oh, yes, he did.

We were working on a five layer body puzzle and as we were moving from muscles to the under layer of organs, Mary Tyler Son pointed to the testicles on the anatomically correct little boy from the puzzle and said, “Those are his testicles.”  “Wow,” I said, “How did you know that?” 

Apparently, Mary Tyler Dad has started anatomy lessons, which is cool, but it’s kind of shocking to hear your three year old correctly identify testicles.  Penis is old hat — Mary Tyler Son could correctly point to his penis before his eyes.  Testicles are new.

My toddler boy mistook my surprise for ignorance and seized the opportunity to tell me in a matter-of-fact yet somehow smug manner that his old lady “doesn’t know a lot of stuff.” 

This pushed a lot of buttons in me.  Feminist buttons.  There’s something about a three year old boy, albeit a brilliant and verbal one, telling his forty-two year old mother that she is dense.  Making it worse, he then told me that Mary Tyler Dad knows everything.  Which he does, but still.

I’m still trying to sort out my feelings. 

On the one hand, the kid is three.  He is complete id and will say whatever pops into his head.  On the other hand, he thinks I don’t know very much.  That stings.  I vascillated between sharing my hurt feelings with him and giving him an intellectual smackdown he would not soon forget.  Punk. 

In the end, I opted to take the high road.  I briefly told him that what he said was unkind and hurt my feelings, but didn’t dwell on that.  Okay, internally I did, and obviously still am, but I don’t want to lay that mother guilt on the boy.  Empathy is best taught in doses, and never using guilt as a tool.

After that, though, I made certain to be more assertive with just what I did know.  Rather than take the more trusted route of prompting the boy to state what he knows, I took this episode as a sign that it is okay to share my knowledge more freely.  I don’t have the intellectual moves like Einstein, but my brain is not a shabby one.   It works pretty well most days.

Big picture, though, this raises all sorts of fears about raising a son.  As his mom, it is my solemn and sworn duty to raise a man that is not a nickname for Richard.  You get my anatomical drift? 

I want my son to value and respect women as much as men.  I want my son to know that brains have nothing to do with gender.  I want my son to appreciate the humor of Tina Fey as well as Judd Apatow.  And I want my son to know that his Mom and Dad are both pretty smart cookies, just different flavors.

10 Replies to “My Life As an Idiot”

  1. Sometimes our kids say the most hurtful things to us, but to them it’s just a fact. I have the hardest time shaking that stuff off, too.
    Not too long ago, the middle step told me I was lazy. This came after I had spent the day doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking dinner, and doing other SAHM type stuff. I wanted to punch him int he nose, but I just said, “I’m sorry you think that. It hurts my feelings when you say things like that.” Then I reminded him that he wouldn’t have clean clothes and food every day if I was really lazy.
    Little jerk.

    If we keep doing the things we do, and teach them to be kind and loving, they’ll turn out that way eventually. We just have to be patient.

    I hope. 😉 XoXo


    1. Ouch! Sounds like we took the xact same approach. Sigh. Even taking the high road sucks when it comes to this kind of thing. I’m with you, though, kantal113, that we just gotta stay the course and hope for the best.

      MTM love to you.


  2. I have two sons and I know that feeling. My four year old recently has told me (his mom with a PhD and JD) that girls are nurses and boys are doctors. He does not see these sterotypes in real life as all his doctors are women, his mom is a professional and his dad paid my way through grad and law school. We correct him and ask why he believe this, but we never get a good answer (he is 4 – what do you expect). I can only hope that as we show him good examples he will see the light.

    I will admit that the times he tells me I look beautiful in a new dress (yes, he has said this unprompted), my heart melts and makes me think he will turn out fine.


    1. But where does it come from?! It’s killing me, this wondering what influenced what you write of, or what MTS said to me. Fascinating stuff, really.

      And I totally get what you are saying about a compliment from our sons. We just got back from vacation and I had a new pair of sparkly sandals. Mary Tyler Son took a look at them, and in a hushed tone said, “Wow! Those are fabulous!” He was almost reverent. I swooned.

      Thanks so much for reading, SharonS12! MTM.


      1. My husband thinks it could be the 1950’s and 1960’s cartoons my son watches – but even in original Scooby Doo episodes Velma is the smart one and Shaggy and Fred are kind of idiots.


  3. Sadly, I know where MY 3 year old son gets some of his backwards opinions – his father. Having a mommy who is a police officer aside, my son is learning stereotypes from my husband, who I love but who drives me crazy with the comments he will make, in jest (sort of) in front of our kids. He has a few issues about being “the man” (pair a wife police officer of 12 years with a husband ex-army soldier who never should have left the service and you get a weird dynamic with a constant “power struggle” for lack of a better way to describe it). I try my best to ensure my son does not grow up as a nickname for Richard as well….

    Luckily for me, his twin sister is having none of it and is the first to defend me, or women in general, when the wee man gets out of line. She even gives it to her father, which usually gets her in trouble but she doesn’t much care 😉 THAT’S MY GIRL!


  4. Sharon, I am a Ph.D. and JD too (and have an honorary doctorate in law as well) – only my 3 year old son doesn’t know that yet 🙂

    I have been a SAHM for about a month and a half now, and am discovering I hate it. Love spending time with my son, love that my husband is enjoying the home cooked meals, but feel as though my brain is turning to mush. Add to this the fact that my son does not hesitate to point out, from time to time, “Mommy you don’t know about cars, OK – I will teach you” (or tools, or surfing, or skiing, you name it).

    Problem is, I REALLY don’t know about the particular things he happens to mention, having never been mechanically or athletically encouraged (being a girl, back in the day, what can I say). So I am taking the high road, as you are, but I sure hope someday he appreciates that I can do an amazing due diligence analysis of a corporation’s intellectual property portfolio!

    And yes, yesterday he did say to me, out of the blue, “Mommy, you are so, so precious to me – and absolutely beautiful too!” Awwww….


    1. jiyer – I guess my son does not know what I do or what I studied in grad school. I guess one positive thing I can do is to start telling him. Good luck with your new job as SAHM, sometimes I think working is the easy way.


  5. Of course, we can’t get his tone of voice in text, but did you really feel he was insulting you or was he stating that “as a girl, you don’t know about boy parts”, since he may not, at his tender age, know that it is your intimate knowledge of man parts that made his boy parts, on which you have devoted many a minute in cleaning and caring for. So he’s getting into the hero worship of dad stage. It happens. I have three daughters so I always had the troops on my side. Even after a year long deployment to Iraq, when I got home, I immediately was reinstalled on the all-knowing wizard throne However, my 15yr old is on the Dad team right now. That’s fine with me though. I didn’t have a good relationship with my dad, so seeing her adore him and go to him for advice is wonderful. I had to fight him for many years against male-chauvinist attitudes, such as telling our youngest who has flaxen hair “you are such a blonde” when she does or says something silly or that doesn’t make sense. I get crazy looks when people tell my daughters they are beautiful and I chime in with “and she is a debate powerhouse/ a talented dancer, artist and a daredevil/ has the fiercest spirit and kindest heart” too. They are all three breathtaking beauties, but I don’t want that to be what they think of first.
    I wouldn’t worry one minute about how MTS is going to turn out. With your inner strength and ability to move and inspire people with your writing, he has one of the best female role models he could ever have. Especially since it’s served with a side dish of snark.


    1. I this 3 year olds are too egocentric to be praising or insulting of others – they observe and react. I do think “Daddy worship” might be part of what’s going on. Also, in my case, my son does spend a lot of time with his dad working on cars, going surfing, doing woodworking with tools, things like that so I could see how he has developed a picture of “only Daddy” knowing about those things. Like MTM, I just want him to start appreciating the things Mommy knows too!

      As for your daughters, I wouldn’t worry too much that people will not appreciate their intellectual and creative/artistic talents. We are visual beings and cannot help but compliment when we see things of beauty. I don’t think people who admire your daughters’ good looks are necessarily implying that this is all they have. It is the first attribute they become aware of because they don’t know them when they first see them, that’s all.


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