Saturday, November 26, 2005

Help Me Help Them. Please. It's For the Children 

I need your help. Well, more accurately, I need your witty comebacks to insults like "you're stupid" and "you're ugly" and "you're a stinky piece of poop". Even more accurately, I need them for my daughters, but I can't promise I won't use a few select ones myself should the need arise.

I'd love to believe that people are basically good, and that children are even more so, since they are just like tiny adults only purer of spirit and more innocent, untainted by all the moral compromises modern life demands of us adults. Unfortunately the evidence contradicts this belief. I'm hearing about a lot of nasty insults amongst my children's peer groups -- who would have imagined such a thing! -- so now I'm trying to improve my girls' reaction to the situation. I want them to have a full toolbox of responses ready to work with.

They've already found a few techniques even without any real help from me, like getting horribly sad, telling the teacher, asking me to call the offender's parents, or simply requesting I beat up the little punks -- I mean kids -- myself. Of course I know these techniques could work in theory, and a little research even uncovered a solid operational plan should I ever need that last option. But I think we should try a few other things first.

Of course one approach will be to try to learn why kids are insulting my little angels -- as if there could possibly be a reason. Should we oncover some little speck of modifiable behavior that is behind even a micro-fraction of the problem, of course I'll check my kids into the nearest behavior modification clinic until they're operating at 100% capacity again.

But it's unlikely that will solve the entire problem. So to handle the rest of it, I want the girls to have a series of counter-zingers ready from now on. But there's a trick: they have to be appropriate and understandable to kids on the receiving end as well as circling crowds of bystanders, easy to remember and deliver, and, if possible, pee-in-the-pants funny to the 7-9 year old brain.

I did a little preliminary work, jotting down the one parrying thrust I remembered from my own childhood:

That one has the added advantage of using the word "butt", which accrues an automatic 150% funniness multiplier -- for kids between the ages of 7 and 9 that is.

My next step was to Google for more jokes, so I typed in "comeback" and "ugly" to see what would turn up. What I discovered is that Google knows giggles, serving up page after page of hilarious repartee on the subject of suboptimal appearance. Sadly, it generally lacks content appropriate and understandable to kids in that golden demographic between 7 and 9. And most of them are hard to remember and difficult to deliver. And not nearly enough include the word butt.

But my kids are counting on me, so I hiked up my hip waders and set off into the swamp of joke links, probably sampling more than 500 examples of the swill, and came away with only the following that I could truly recommend to my kids:

In response to "you're ugly" I can offer them...
Truth be told, I'm not even sure that last one will work, since my kids stared at me with horrified looks until I explained about doctors wanting to hear new born babies cry. Then I had to explain why he would slap the mother. In fact, I pretty much had to explain every word of that one, and apologize for it too. So I think we're going to skip that one.

In response to "You're a stinky piece of poop" I found this one for them...
Yup, that's the best Google could do. Or at least that was all I could find before the muck went deeper than my hip waders.

I didn't really even try to look for "you're so stupid" responses, because I'm assuming those are coming from kids who are pretty dumb themselves and are just projecting. And what kind of joke are they going to find funny?
So now you're my kids last hope. I can't believe the much-vaunted blogosphere couldn't do better than the garbage I've found so far. Please, you've got to help me. Add your own comebacks in the comments section so I can pass them on to my kids (or use them myself). Consult your own kids for help if you need to, I don't care -- unless your kids know my kids.

Just please pitch in and help. I'll post up the best of the bunch with links crediting contributors who leave them in a few days.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: