Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stifling ... Contradictions

Ah, the satisfaction of a good healthy sneeze.  My mom, bless her heart,  tends to sneeze embarrassingly loud with a lusty WA-HOO! And consequently I've spent a lifetime trying to stifle mine. 

In case you’ve never tried this, it’s painful to swallow a sneeze, and inevitably it results in a high-pitched hiccuppy squeak that sound more like "tee-ew" than "kerchoo," which is equally embarrassing to offspring.  (Ask how I know.)

One day not so long ago, I was home alone when I felt that urge to sneeze.  Instead of my usual attempt at a silent execution, I let it out.  I mean, I gave a  big ugly ol’ kabptlowzhooy that would put my mama to shame.  And you know what?  It felt good.  I never knew a sneeze could be so satisfying.

In her defense, Mom had no clue she was inadvertently teaching me that sneezes were bad, no clue that her unladylike blasts had turned me off to the point of permanent avoidance of sneezing and the perpetual pursuit of a dainty sneeze when absolutely unavoidable.  

Now - again - I am on the other side of the equation.  Having older children highlights many interesting revelations.  I pray that each child will find ways to overcome personal oddities caused by overreactions to what they perceived to be truth when they were younger.  In the meantime may they own up to their misunderstandings and not blame them all on me.

Any way you look at it, kids jump to the wrong conclusions.  Case in point: if you and your husband kiss and show affection in front of them, one child might say “Ew, gross” and vow to never do that when he grows up.  If you choose to only embrace in the privacy of your bedroom, another child may battle an irrational fear that his parents are on the verge of divorce.  You cannot win.

Contradictions abound.  Based on what they see and hear,  I fear my children might grow up to be stingy and selfish.  I mean, what are we teaching our kids when we say things like...  “...don’t share your hairbrush or baseball cap; you might get head lice,”  “...don’t let friends eat after you or drink out of your water bottle; you might get the flu or hepatitis, ” and “...don’t give to (that) beggar or he will just use it for drugs or alcohol.” It sounds so ungenerous and un-Christian.

Oh, the conflicting messages of childhood. 

Then there are the many cultural contradictions we convey.  At times I hear my own voice planting negative seeds with exclamations like “Hurry up!  You don’t have to be so Mexican that we are always late.” 

Okay, it's your turn now.  Which of your oddities do you contend are your parents' fault?  For those of you with children, do you feel like confessing how your kids have come to mistaken conclusions from lessons you never meant to teach?

Can we undo the damage we've already caused?  More importantly, is it worth hashing it out with our grown kids, at the risk of letting the proverbially suppressed sneezes explode?  I wonder....

IRL*  Is there any such thing as a happy balance between kerchoo and kabptlowzhooy?  

Just for fun, I've compiled a list of sneezy sounds from other languages that I found on the internet.  Feel free to add to the list.
ah-choo (English)
ap chkii (Russian)
atchim (Brazilian Portuguese)
hatschi (German)
hakushon (Japanese)
achís (Spanish)
aak-chheen or aak-chhoon (Hindi)
a-psik (Polish)
Han-chee (Chinese)
Itush (Hebrew)
Kychnut (Czech)
Wa-hing (Indonesian)
A-tchouin (French)
ha tsjoe (Dutch)
Hatsing," pronounced "hut-CHEENG" (Tagalog)
Ecciù (Italian)
Atsjo! (Norwegian)



  1. Actually, I have thought about this quite a few times in respect to the fact that I am teaching my children to "see" right and wrong---distinguishing bad behavior and bad attitudes. AND, at the same time teaching them to "not judge" or "be graceful" or "everyone has different convictions". For example, how do I teach my daughter concepts of modesty AND at the same time not teach her a judgmental attitude toward her friends that are dressing "immodestly"?! This is hard!! I am asking her to make judgments and not to judge all at the same time. Contradictions abounds, I agree!! (or extreme paradox/complexity, at the least)

    1. Yes, exactly! Good examples - teaching morals plus grace. Some kids will hear it completely one-sided and others will, too, but on the other side. I've seen my share of arrogant TCKs who are very judgmental based on what they think they know.

  2. Not the comment you asked for but.. etixia! (x= sh)Yanomami dialect from Brazil.

  3. Kaxa! (again, x = sh) means "sneeze" in Costal Mixtec.


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