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April 6, 2012

The Brutal Honesty of the Young

by Anne Paddock

I love the brutal honesty of kids and teens. They don’t need to stand in front of the Bocca della Veritá to state the truth because the world hasn’t piled the rules of gracious manners on their doorstep yet. Have you ever noticed that kids always talk about everything that is going on in their house much to the parent’s dismay?

Spend a few hours with a child and you will learn that Dad said the “F word” last night, Mom cooked breakfast for dinner, Grandpa has a new girlfriend that Mom and Dad don’t like, and Sister had a meltdown because she forgot to lock the bathroom door and Brother walked in on her while she was on the toilet. One day my friend’s 4-year son walked out of the bathroom and announced to his family “I have a big butt and a little penis.” Forks dropped, laughter ensued and my friend pulled his son aside and said “son, you may not want to advertise that family attribute.”

For fourteen years I had a golden retriever who was like my first child. I took her everywhere with me, including the Starbucks in Madrid when we lived in Spain. One afternoon, my daughter and I were walking the dog and we decided to stop at Starbucks for a refreshment. After getting situated at an outside table, the dog started exhibiting one of the many gross behaviors that dogs do…eating her butt. My daughter in exasperation shouted out “no come su culo” (“don’t eat your butt”) and within a second, there was silence and all eyes were on us.  I wanted to crawl under the table as I had no idea what to say or do. After the blush left my face, I gently explained to my daughter that we can’t yell things like that in public – better to say it softly.

When my daughter first started baking, I bought her a selection of mixes from the King Arthur Flour Company so she would gain confidence and a better understanding of how a cake is made.  I explained that a good rule of thumb is to substitute butter for vegetable oil (makes the cake taste better), never use margarine, have the ingredients at room temperature, and don’t overmix or overbake.  After her first batch of chocolate cupcakes, she bit into one and the look on her face said “rapture” as the cupcakes were moist and chocolately – so much so they didn’t need frosting.  A few hours later, she looked up from her homework and said “Mom, I’m so good at cake mixes.” All I could do was crack up laughing as I explained to my 5 foot, 10 inch blond daughter that she may not want to advertise that talent.

To experience the brutal honesty of the young is a treat, however embarrassing it can be but more often than not, their proclamations are just plain hilarious.  Enjoy the moments and laugh.

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