My girl child gets a lot from me. She inherited my complexion, my puffy cheeks, and my bubbly disposition. She’s also got my snarky sense of humor. While she was answering questions for a homework assignment, she asked, “Mommy, what do you like to do?”
“Well,” I began thoughtfully, “I like to dance and go to museums and shop and ...”
“Hold it, hold it,” she interrupted. “I just needed a few. This ain’t your eHarmony profile.”
See what I mean? A certified smarty pants. It was hilarious. (And just for the record, I do not have an eHarmony profile.)
A conversation we had on the way to school wasn’t nearly as funny. We were stuck behind a trash truck when she said, “Would you ever date a garbage man?” I looked over before I answered. Her lip was all bunched up in a snarl of disdain. This was not going to end well.
“Sure,” I shrugged. “Why? Wouldn’t you?”
She played it off with nonchalant shrug and a flippant “I don’t know,” but I could already see what the answer was before she even got her words out. So I asked, “Well, what’s wrong with dating a garbage man? Would you date a proctologist?”
“Yeah,” she said, face straight as a politician’s. “If he made a lot of money.”
I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m pretty sure one of the veins in my forehead made its grand debut. I’ve seen it happen to other parents, but I think that’s the first time one of mine ever bulged.
There’s so much humor in her statement that I could turn it into a whole stand-up comedy routine if I was confident enough to hit the stage. This girl has got Thee Nerve — not just the nerve, Thee Nerve — to try her hand at being sadiddy and turn her nose up at somebody’s honest profession when she comes from a wholly working-class family? I mean, we Harrises are so blue-collar, we should actually wear them as an official uniform.
My mother is a factory worker. Her four sisters and brother and her brothers-in-law, my aunts and uncles? Factory workers, all of them, except two — and one is a mechanic. My grandfather worked in a steel mill for over 30 years. And aside from stints in the military, most of his nine siblings, even the girls, made livings in manual labor in some form or fashion.
So I am the first person in my family to go to college. The absolute first. If Miss Bright and Bourgeoisie gets her academic act together, she might have the honor of being the second. But that privilege does not dare give her the right to pop fly, act stank, or otherwise be snooty about somebody’s j-o-b — especially since she’s one generation removed from working with her hands and especially because she herself aspires to be a cosmetologist, another decidedly working-class career.
Now I’m not knocking hairstylists. Lord knows I need mine. But if she was shooting to be a biochemical engineer, she might have a bit more room to play the snob role.
I don’t expect her to speak about sanitation work with sparkles in her eyes. But to make salary the main distinction between the dateability of a garbage collector and a butt doctor is flabbergasting. It darn sure isn’t something I passed down to her or anything that I’m consciously teaching her.
What’s funny is I barely have the money to pay all of our bills most of the time. Never do I ever give this girl the impression that 1) cash falls like manna from heaven around here — or anywhere else — or that 2) she doesn’t have to work hard for what she does have.
I suspect her sense of entitlement comes from me making life a little too easy for her, which has a tendency to backfire and give kids a false sense that they have the right to be uppity or overly expectant. And homegirl is definitely suffering from both symptoms. Her godmother, who is my best friend, has since warned me not to be too hard on her, but I think Tween Money Honey needs to learn quick, fast, and in a hurry that people are not to be judged by the balance in their checking account or the title behind their names.
How would you nip this burgeoning snobbiness in the bud? Do you have a similar problem with your kids or is this just a Harris family exclusive?
Image via covilha/Flickr