Having lived in the States for 20 years now, I use sarcasm, self-deprecation and other alternative forms of humo(u)r a lot less than I used to. Americans are a very sincere bunch and many attempts at sarcasm are met with confused or pleading looks. Sometimes the recipients of my rapier-like wit don't realise I'm having them on, so attempt to discuss or argue the point.
Last week I was part of a conversation about school sports' transportation, and (as usual) the topic turned to snacks. One parent questioned the need to provide teenage boys with snacks (ie. can't they bring their own), while the pro-snack dad all but said "Well, it'll give them something to do on the bus." My big mouth couldn't them resist piping in with "Oh great, teach them how to fill their time by stuffing their faces." (I know, I know, I told you I had a big mouth.) Pro-dad shot me a withering look then pointed out (quite correctly) that these kids are about to burn thousands of calories, yada, yada, yada. It's times like these when you really want to say "No, no, I was only joking." and generally make yourself look like less of a bad/stupid person. After 20 years however, I've given up. My silence after his comment (plus me walking away in despair) gave him a hint that he might be taking things a little too seriously, as the next thing I knew he was offering me coffee!
What I didn't expect however, was a similar reaction on the Alpha Mummy pages recently (it being a British paper). The post was about "Take our Children to the Park - and Leave them There", which apparently happened in New York this past weekend. You'll have to read the piece for yourself, but the gist is that city kids at least, are too cocooned and parents should take their kids to the park (with other kids) and leave them for a while. Fair enough. You know some parents are going to feel that it's too riskly while others are going to tell them to lighten up.
Big mouth here couldn't resist stirring it a bit and added the first comment. Ver batim - Great idea except that by giving it so much publicity, isn't that going to atttract just the people everyone is afraid of. You know - the pervs? I suppose you have to know me to realise that I was being tongue in cheek and apeing the over-protectiveness the author was critisicing. I didn't expect -
Expat Mum needs to lighten up. It's that kind of attitude that leads to them being wrapped in balls of cotton wool in the first place.
Expat mum, statistically, the 'pervs' you're talking of are likely to be someone you know, someone in a position of trust or even in your family. What will you do now, follow your kid around at all times and fit CCTV in every room in your house?
Of course, I couldn't resist another comment but fell far short of the usual attempts at clarification:
Oh dear, I guess "tongue in cheek" doesn't translate very well on paper.
All quite funny really especially considering my kids were one of the first in their grades to walk to school without me, but Jeez - lighten up guys. I was kidding!!