Sarcasm is something I practice regularly. But as children tend to be literalists, I have done my best to explain the concept and point out to them when I am being sarcastic–if only to spare them the confusion that can often result from engaging with someone who actually says the opposite of what she means. Oscar seems to be understanding my “sense of humor” more and more and will even occasionally look at me, tilt his head slightly to the side, and ask, “Sarcasm?” or “Are you being facetious?”
So the other day when it was about 400 degrees in the house with 200% humidity, and I was on my three thousandth load of laundry, Oscar sauntered into the laundry room and asked what I was doing.
My reply was sarcastic . . . very sarcastic. And I didn’t take the time to explain it to him.
A few days later he came to me and very quietly said the following: “Mom, can I talk to you about what you said to me in the laundry room the other day? It hurt my feelings.”
And I stopped in my tracks and listened with every part of myself to what my son was saying—not wanting to miss a word, a nuance, anything.
I then talked to him about the heat, about my sense of humor, and about his timing—and admitted to him that while all of these might be explanations, none was an excuse. I thanked him for coming to me and apologized for hurting his feelings. He accepted my apology graciously and moved on.
Thank you, Oscar, for having the courage to tell me what was on your mind and in your heart and for your willingness to listen to my response. That is the secret to rectifying the bulk of all of life’s misunderstandings—you’re six and you’ve learned that lesson. May you carry that with you for the rest of your life and inspire others to communicate as clearly as you do.