How long does it take for karma to come around and bite you in the ass? Could it be in the same lifetime? I used to get super irritated with hearing the way people talked to their kids like they were kowtowing to the little bastards. At the video store where the kids are screaming to rent all twelve sequels to Honey, I Lost My Balls: “Can Daddy get a movie for himself this time?” At the bookstore, where the kid was pulling every single book off the shelf and stomping on them: “Now, now, Peyton (all bratty kids are named something that wasn’t a first name when I was a kid), Peyton, I’m going to count to three and then it’s no TV for an hour after we get home…1…1…1…1” They never seemed to get to three. At the pool: “Good job letting your sister come up for air, Tinsley.” What happened to good old fashioned threats of bodily harm?
Now I realize these people have been shamed into talking this way, in this sing-songing voice, by teachers, therapists, and other experts, who in many cases don’t even have kids. Or perhaps, they were even keeping from harming their kids by being sarcastic without the kids, or judgemental bystanders like me, knowing it. And now I read that experts were coming out against the “good job” culture three years before Mario was even born, and almost five years before he was diagnosed, but I still was taught to do it. Worse, I can’t stop doing it.
Somewhere between sitting in on occupational therapy, equine therapy, oral aversion therapy, speech therapy, language therapy, and regular ass taekwondo classes, I have developed the verbal tic of saying, “Good job” for everything. “Nice working, Mario, I like how you’re eating. Hey, you pooped in the toilet today without me having to physically place you on the pot and hold you prisoner in the bathroom, great job. Good job playing with the cat without scaring him. Oh, I like how you unlocked that new level on your video game. Good job.” I say it so much, that I’m not sure it means anything to anyone anymore. I’m waiting for Mario to notice, one day, when he is older, and start baiting me: “I got someone pregnant at school today, Mom.” “Great job, Mario.” My father makes sure to snarkily make me aware that I’m saying it if we go out to eat and I say, “Good job eating your macaroni, I like how you’re working,” to Mario, Dad will say, “Thanks. Oh, you’re not talking to me. Why aren’t you telling me that I’m doing a good job eating?” And then Mario will say, “Good job Papa! Actually, Mommy, it’s macaroni and cheeeeeeeeeese.” If “good job” is my verbal tic, then Mario’s is “actually,” except he has an excuse.
At some point I started positively reinforcing my husband. “Thanks for taking out the trash, good job. Oh, I like how you unloaded the dishwasher, hon. You cleaned the litter box, great working. Did you have to move your clip from green down to yellow today at work, Mustache Pete, or did you get a happy face?” I live in fear that I will absentmindedly tell Pete “good job” after sex. He’ll probably read this and tell me that I already did, several times.
Off topic, did you know that the Kraft Mac and Cheese at Applebee’s is better than the Kraft Mac and Cheese at IHOP, but not as good as the Kraft Mac and Cheese at Burger King (which, by the way, they have ruined my life by discontinuing). And all three of them are better than the Kraft Mac and Cheese you make at the house. Oh, and I praised Mario for good job on trying a new food tonight, a red velvet doughnut from Krispy Kreme. He told me that I was wrong, actually, it was not a new food, it was a combination of two old foods, doughnuts and red velvet cake. Maybe he is on to the good job racket already.