A while back, the boys and I were in the car and they started discussing terms for people who are lacking in intelligence. The conversation went something like this.
“Mom…Luke called me an idiot.”
“Luke, please don’t call your brother an idiot.”
“But, he was acting like one,” Luke argued.
“Still,” I replied, “it’s really not nice to call your brother an idiot.”
“Well, what can I call him then? Can I call him stupid?” Luke asked.
“Stupid is somewhat better than idiot, but it’s still not nice.”
“Dumb, then?” Luke continued.
“Okay. If you’re really looking for clarification,” I responded, “here’s what I think. I would say that dumb is probably the least harmful. Stupid is a bit worse. Idiot is truly unkind. I’d prefer you not call each other idiot, even if the other one is acting like one.”
“There’s another word, Mom,” Joe added. “I hear you say it in the car sometimes. It starts with a J.”
Caught. I do utter the word “jackass” while driving. It’s the only swear word that my kids hear me say. I try to refrain from swearing too much in front of them, although it is difficult because when they’re not around I can keep up with a sailor.
“Okay, then. Put the J-word after idiot in terms of being bad. So, if you hear me telling another driver they’re a jackass, then they’ve escalated right to the top of the moron scale.” And, that’s how the moron scale was born.
Today, my boys were playing Legos together. Luke is the Lego King. He is (and always has been) amazing with Legos. Joe? Not so much. It’s not only difficult for Joe to build Legos, but it seems to be difficult for him to keep them in tact. He has many times been punished for messing with Luke’s built Lego sets and destroying them, presumably by accident. At any rate, Joe was struggling to put two pieces together today, and Luke was waiting on him. Luke could not understand what Joe’s problem was because, by his mind, this was an easy task. Then, I heard the tattletale call from the living room.
“Mom…Luke called me stupid. And then he called me an idiot.”
The I-word is grounds for trouble in our house, so I called Luke in to talk to me.
“Luke…I’ve told you before. Do not call your brother an idiot.”
“Well, he was being an idiot. He couldn’t get these two Lego pieces together. It’s so easy!”
“Hey, Luke,” I told him, “Legos are more difficult for Joe. You need to cut him some slack. If you call him an idiot again today there will be a consequence and you will likely be cut-off from Lego You Tube videos for at least a day.”
“Okay. Okay,” Luke whined.
As he was walking back to meet his brother in the living room, I heard a big crash. I rounded the corner to see Joe standing there with what was left of a Lego plane Luke had built earlier this morning. Half the ship was in his hands. The other half was in pieces on the floor. Without missing a beat, Luke turned around and looked at me with a see-what-I-mean expression.
“Now can I call him an idiot?” was all he said.
I love my boys. They don’t always get along, but their predictability is amusing.