Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Family of Fact-Checkers

I come from a long line of people who can't stand to have a factual error sit unchecked. For example, if I'm talking to my mom about the kids and say "Connor" when I mean "Chloe," she absolutely has to stop and correct me- even if she understands what I meant and there is no one else involved who might have been confused by my error. She just can't stand that I said it wrong, and it has to be corrected. And I am so thankful, because I would be miserable to know the wrong name was just sitting there between us and no one had told me.

Although I'm happy to be kept in line by other adults, I am not happy to see this particular neurosis manifest itself in my children. I guess the problem, in a nutshell, is that my kids don't actually know the facts. They just know their version of them. But they assert them with the same certainty that a more knowledgable adult might. And I just can't let it go when they do.

For example, I might say, "Let's watch Diego. It comes on next." Connor is quick to tell me that he thinks Franklin comes on next. I could just let the TV play, and be proven right when Diego starts. But that's not how we do things.
"No, Connor, it's Diego."
"Actually, it's Franklin."
"Connor I am 35 years old and I know how to pull up the guide on the TV and I know how to read and I'm telling you the guide says Diego! It's Diego!"
In these situations, I can't decide what bothers me more- that Connor doesn't respect what I have to say, or the fact that he's wrong and refuses to acknowledge it.

This trickles down to Chloe, of course, which drives me crazy because there is no point in constantly correcting the details of a two-year-old's life. As long as she gets the general concepts, there is no reason to call it to her attention if she says Mommy's phone is ringing when it's actually Daddy's phone. Even I can refrain from throwing an "Actually. . ." her way. You know who can't? Her big brother. Chloe is the one person with a smaller knowledge base than Connor, and he knows it. And makes sure the rest of us know it. This bothers Chip because he thinks Connor is being a know-it-all. It bothers me because I don't want Connor to think I missed Chloe's mistake. It takes all my strength to let "Mommy's phone" hang in the air when it was clearly Daddy's phone, but my resolve weakens when someone implies that I missed the error. So I fuss at Connor, not for being a know-it-all, but for thinking that I'm not one.

That doesn't mean Chloe can't hold her own, although it often seems she's correcting herself while blaming the error on you.
"I had PopTarts for breakfast, Mommy!"
"PopTarts, that sounds great!"
"Actually, Mommy, I had cereal."

Maybe our fact-checker nature is based on ego. Maybe it's some form of OCD. Maybe we're just know-it-alls. The only certainty is that we all drive poor Chip crazy. He thought it was bad being constantly corrected by me for the last 15 years- now he's got three people doing it. I guess he had better get his details straight, or he won't stand a chance in this family of fact-checkers.


Anonymous said...

Oh! From the mouths of babes- Cereal! God bless us all.
Troy, Cheryl & Christian

Anonymous said...

It is at times like this that I am not above punching my children in the stomach.

cjaxon said...

Actually ... one of the few words I wish we could have kept out of Katie's vocabulary! Is it always said in that tone of voice that can onlybe referred to as "SMARMY"!! Anonymous has it all wrong, it is when I punch myself in the head!