When it comes to kids, some people are just never content.
I recently chatted to a dad about his teenage son and soon wished I hadn’t.
Me: So how’s your son doing? How is he enjoying the new school?
Dad: Hmmph, the school’s a bloody money-making racket, no discipline, not enough focus on schoolwork. But ja, he got his provincial hockey colours last term.
Me: Oh wow, that’s amazing! You must be so proud… etc etc (wasn’t just being polite, I was genuinely impressed and happy for them)
Dad: Hmmph, bloody kid, needs to get his marks up to scratch... etc etc
Could the man be any more miserable? The poor child, I thought. Father can’t even be the teeniest bit braggy about him when he really deserves it. That’s pretty sad. Then I started to listen to how parents talk about their children. And how I do it, too…
I found these specimens on my recon missions:The Bragger:
smug, opinionated and totally MSG-free; their children are simply better than yours, in every way. So you might as well just go right now and eat worms.
Favourite saying: “My little Josh slept through from birth and can speak four languages blah-blah-blah etc… Shame, maybe you should take yours to OT?”
When in conversation with a Bragger, stay away from blunt instruments. Prepare to hear the words ‘Precious’, ‘Nunu’ and ‘Little Miracle’ more times than seems humane. Feel free to mention poo frequently. This of course upsets them, as their children do not poo.
The Reverse Bragge
r: vying for the coveted My Child’s Allergies Are Worse Than Your Child’s Allergies trophy. Their lives are so much tougher than yours, their children more delicate, their martyr–ish dysfunction more exciting. You can’t out-suffer these dudes; don’t even try.
Favourite saying: “Ah, you’re so lucky, you’ve had it SO easy!”
When confronted with a Reverse Bragger, don’t laugh, don’t ask leading questions and don’t expect to get a word in yourself. The Slagger:
like Miserable Hockey Git above – they simply don’t have anything good to say. Whether they’re talking to the child or about them, it’s always moan-bitch-complain. Their children are horrid unpleasant brats but how they got this way is a mystery, and of course has nothing to do with The Slagger, who is terribly put-upon. You wouldn’t get away with this In His Day…
Favourite saying: “These bloody kids, I don’t know where they get it from…”
Nasty buggers. You’ll be tempted to adopt their poor children yourself, but it’s already too late to save them; they carry the Whingey Gene and are doomed. Never mention your own children, as the Slagger will expect you to join in the grouchfest – don’t do it, they’ll suck you in and you will be assimilated.
A lesser known subspecies is the Fake Slagger, who only do it because they’re terrified of looking like Braggers.
Not sure where I fit, actually. I love to hear about other people’s children, but I don’t discuss my own with many people; only with those who I know actually care about us. It seems wrong to share what’s ours and special with somebody who doesn’t give a toss.
Among real friends it’s not called Bragging, it’s called Marvelling, and we’re all allowed a bit of that.Confess, are you a bragger or a slagger, and why?
Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht