My favorite line from my kids: "I didn't know."
"Ben! Take your shoes off the counter!"
"GEEZE, MOM, I didn't know!"
"Zachary, taking the trash out means all the trash. Not just one bag."
"I didn't know!"
"Jake, making your bed means... making it. At least pull up the comforter!"
"I didn't know!"
I'm raising a tribe of Republicans. No accountability and I swear, they secretly high five when they get away with leaving the dishes on the kitchen table instead of putting them in the dishwasher.
This morning, Jeanine found three crumpled soda cans by their computer in the family room. Ever since I found gum stuck to the 100 percent wool, dry clean only throw blanket that had migrated from the living room to the family room, no food, beverages or gum has been allowed.
Jeanine brought them all to the back room.
She pointed at the cans.
Ben was the first: "I didn't know!"
This drives Jeanine nuts. As a very linear thinker, she knows that she has said, no food, beverages or gum in the family room, the next logical step is, no food, beverages or gum in the room. One should not have to repeat the same step over and over. Or take a detour down a path that will not lead anywhere but trouble.
"Were you not listening when I told you no?"
"Yes, I heard you but..."
"So you did hear me."
"But I didn't know!"
"Didn't know what? That I meant it?"
The other two stayed very quiet. They'll let their guide lead them to salvation or big trouble. They trust him. A good friend of mine once asked Ben if he was going to be a lawyer -- she's one -- because he was a brash little seven-year-old negotiating with her to get her son out of time out. "Are you his attorney?" She asked. Ben kept pleading his case with a young child's logic.
Now it's a pre-teen's logic. No responsibility, no accountability and really, you bought the soda so it's your fault.
Why should my kids be any different than their president, George Bush, who claimed "mission accomplished" in 2003. Oops. He has said, well, I didn't know. I thought it was accomplished. It seemed like the war was almost over and almost does count in horseshoes and hand grenades. Doesn't really matter all those pesky reports kept coming in saying it wasn't nearly over, not even close. It's not my fault I didn't listen. Besides, I really wanted to wear the flight suit. So cool.
Or Andrew Speaker who felt like it was his right to possibly infect an entire airplane of people with TB because well... he didn't know. Sure, he was told but he didn't know know. He had only been told once. Firmly. Absolutely do not get on a plane. Does that mean no or don't cough?
Maybe they should hire Ben.
Why is it that privileged, white men seem to think they can do whatever they want or see fit to do, regardless of consequences? Whether it's Bush, or Mr. Speaker or the old guy who insists on waving you through an intersection even though it goes against every traffic rule written simply because he wants to, I am amazed by the lack of awareness for anyone but themselves.
And when you catch them at it, with soda cans piled on the table, they respond by saying, "Well... I didn't know. It's not my fault."
I'm annoyed when my children dodge and maneuver to clear their good names of any wrongdoing. I would so much rather they say, "Yeah, I knew. Did it anyway. Sorry. It was easier, it was faster, and you weren't looking." While Jeanine engages in a linear argument with them, retracing logical steps, I want something different. I want my privileged white males to accept responsibility.
"It's not my fault you let us have soda," Ben finally retorts, hands on hips, very defiant.
I step in before Jeanine blows. "Take the cans to the recycling," I said, "NOW. Go."
I knew it was going to end up in the ultimate deflection -- it's our fault for giving birth in the first place.
They, after all, didn't know they were going to be born.
Maybe we should call Barbara. And Andrew Speaker's mother.
I did know. It was my fault. Being the radical, lesbian suburban mother I am, I will take responsibility. And desperately try to teach them to do the same. I'm fighting against a societal norm and I find myself frustrated by the lack of proper role models in the media.
White male privilege versus lesbian mom -- who do you think will win?