As you probably know, my sister and Caiti and I recently flew to JamieKnoxville’s in South Jersey to help her move into a new place. It was a wonderful/exhausting trip that involved an eight hour stint in IKEA, dinner at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, a canceled flight, a 50 yard sprint going the wrong way on a walking sidewalk (wish you coulda been there), 75,000 pieces of IKEA furniture parts and hardware that needed assembling, and a lot of buttercream & coffee. JK is my first cousin but because of the years of childhood
trauma memories we have together, she’s more like a sister to us. After 48 hours of tugging and pulling and flat out laying on the floor laughing until we cried, we ended up with this photo and that’s when I repented to IKEA for all the things I said while I was hangry (hungry + angry) and tired.
Jamie or Sister as we call her is a very thin beautiful woman who may or may not be one of those people who “forgets to eat.” Bless her skinny little heart. All I can say is that I did not get that particular piece of genetic code. When we got to her place, here’s what she had available in her kitchen—a bountiful supply of dog treats, 2 heads of lettuce, 18 boxes of coffee, & some low fat yogurt. As June Bug (her dog) as my witness, that’s not a word of a lie. I got excited when I saw a tin full of peppermint bark until I realized it was more dog treats for June. I was immediately hungry and panicky. In Sister’s defense, she had gone to a lot of trouble to order a birthday cake for me from this fancy bakery in Maryland and it was all kinds of wonderful. Needless to say, we did not go hungry. We ate a lot of buttercream, drank a lot of coffee, and ate out at a few amazing places. But we did tease her all weekend about her lack of ALL THINGS FOOD. We laughed so hard about the sad state of her pantry and she even gave me permission to blog about it. I was in charge of decorating so when I suggested that we put a large glass container of peppermints on the Stockholm dresser, we all laughed because she knew what I was getting at—at least there will be some snacks around here!
But knowing someone well enough to know what’s fair game to laugh about and what will cut them to the core is part of loving other people well. Good humor comes from a place of love, sarcasm comes from a place of contempt and insecurity. We are all very good at knowing the difference when it comes to how others treat us, but not as good at seeing it while we’re dishing it out.
This has been the subject of many a conversation in my house lately. Why? Because as lenient as I can be with my kids at times, I don’t tolerate snarky sarcasm very well. And 8th grade is nothing if not the place where sarcasm seems to be part of the curriculum. And we’re all guilty of it at some time or another, but so many people operate their whole lives from this place of biting criticism. And since it’s been a topic of conversation in our house for the last few weeks and months, I’ve noticed something interesting. If you are sarcastic to your kids, it will come back to bite you.
I was on the receiving end of this type of sarcasm not too long ago from one of my kids and it cut me to the quick. Immediately, I got angry, then defensive, then sad. I wondered if I had been that way to them lately? Is this coming from something they’re seeing or hearing at home? From friends?
Sometimes I marvel at how kind my kids are to me most days, how tender they are to me so much of the time and when that turns to snarkiness, it’s a biting reminder that the world has enough cynicism and sarcasm and nastiness. What the world doesn’t have enough of is kindness. I hope their hearts (and my heart too) will remain open and tender and compassionate. I hope they astonish the mean world with kindness.
And I hope they find plenty of reasons to laugh until they cry without breaking someone else’s heart to do it.