And you’d think my mutism is only evident arounds adults and in social gatherings that test my willingness to be a part of anything less than enjoyable, but that’s not entirely true, in fact, can I just tell you that children–well, most of them–aren’t my best buddies.
I do love children, don’t get me wrong; they are innocent, full of joy, they are kind (mostly), they have funny teeth, they let you enter their pillow fort, they challenge your top video game scores, they show you their shabbily drawn crayon art, and they expect you to utter complimentary words like, “Wow Mini! How did you draw this? This looks beautttttifuuuuuul! Can you teach me how to draw this?”
I often compliment them with a tone that an adult could tell you has no credibility to it, and that’s because I am being honest with myself and yet I am obliging to say things that I am expected to say.
My commitment towards my complimentary tone is the same as my awkward posture on their tiny chairs – half assed.
“Then there are occasions when I cannot come up with any compliments and I can’t fake my tone, and oh boy, I am not feeling your crayon art Mini. Let’s see, what exactly is hanging by the tree, again? An apple? A pear? A tennis ball? Why the fuck are the sun rays dotted? Why are all the hill tops pointed? Why that tree over there has like 4 leaves on it? There are four clouds in the sky too, but all in different colors? Why does the rainbow have shades of black in it? Is that a dog or a mouse? A cayote? A mountain lion? What is it? Is he eating grass? Where is his tail? Is the guy on the left supposed to be your dad? Are those his legs or are those twigs? And he seems to have … let me count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, aaand 6 … six spiked hair strands. Your mom on the other hand seems to have a cauliflower growing out of her head. Why is the river pink?
Also, I am sorry Mini, my head is too big for your pillow fort – literally and metaphorically – so, you go in and I will protect you from outside. A true Kingsman right here! And no, you can’t expect me to answer the same questions about dinosaurs once again. Dinosaurs are dead. They have been dead for about two hundred million years now. You know how many years that is? That’s fifty million times your age. You know how much fifty million is? That’s fifty times a million. You know how much a million is? No, not minion. I said, million. Mee-lee-on!
Listen, so in other words, dinosaurs died about you-needn’t-worry-about-them-years ago. Shit, my dog died a year ago. You don’t ask me if golden retrievers are carnivore or herbivore. But if you did, I will tell you. Because Golden Retrievers are still relevant in the time that we live in. In fact, tell you what, I am going to get one more of those again this year. But if you want me to answer whether Allosaurous and Carnotaurus had two legs or four legs or a dozen of them, then teleport yourself and ask me these questions two hundred million years ago.”
Of course, I don’t say these things. I am merely thinking them. I can’t be the chummy gummy bear kids always want me to be, but I also can’t be rude. So, what will I do then? I will kill my will and give-in I will. I become as fake as their idols and fairies, only slightly grumpy, less capable, and a whole lot unattractive.
What further leaves me speechless is that certain parents compare you to their kids and expect you to play along. I don’t know if it builds a kid’s morale if you continuously tell them they are better than everyone else or gradually transforms them into cocky and mannerless assholes. That’s a separate debate anyway.
What I am getting at is, that it’s easy to not feel enthusiastic around a kid and yet play along with them. They will not realize you are faking every word of your compliment and if they do realize it, they don’t have the social maturity or the skill of articulation to confront you. And if their confrontation is more of a tantrum, you can fake your enthusiasm even harder and distract them with something that has a surprise value (look, my watch glows!) and they will most likely forget that they were mad at all.
This however doesn’t apply to their parents. On a second thought, why do we need to fool the parents at all? Have they not been in the same situation as me? Did they not sit on someone else’s couch and watch their five-year-old do an awkward dance and choke on his mucus (Isn’t it adorable? No, it’s snot!), recite a poetry with a lisp, or do tricks that made them go, “Ah, please stop now. Enough! I am not here for the circus! Next what? A lion jumping through a burning hoop and a bear on a tricycle?”
And if they have, how did they fare? Did they clap? Did they tell the kid how amazing he was? Or did they fake a call? And if they did, then was it cellular or nature’s? Or did they quietly hide their cringe behind a large cup of tea and waited for the buffoonery to end?