Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Contagious Grump

I cannot be the only one…who wonders about the amount of influence the people who spend time with my child will have on the type of person he will become as he grows. Are our children simply mimicking the uncle who tells inappropriate jokes at the dinner table and groaning like daddy when asked to take out the trash, or are our little angels picking up all of our good and (mostly) bad behaviors along their way?

There is a person in our family that is GRUMPY, grumpy about work, grumpy about traffic, and grumpy about stubbing their toe. I mean this person’s ability to grump would put Walter Matthau’s character in Grumpy Old Men to shame.  Their grumpiness is easy to trigger, simple inconveniences such as a short wait at the gas station or the self-check-out at the market asking them to “wait for assistance,” can turn our crabby family member’s smile upside down for the remainder of the day.

When this cantankerous person is spending time with Sonny Boy and starts in on a prickly outburst, “Of course this would happen to me,” in response to dropping a spoon more than once, I wince and hope that Sonny Boy realizes it isn’t normal to get so riled up over such a simple hassle.  I hope Sonny Boy will learn to laugh at how ridiculous it is to literally cry (or mumble expletives under your breath) over spilled milk, as opposed to tacking on this perpetually perturbed state of mind to his freshly minted personality. It is because of these testy displays by our family member that every now and again when I glimpse an act of frustration by Sonny Boy that I wonder, “is this typical five-year-old irritating behavior or thirty-five-year-old curmudgeonly behavior?”

I wish the solution to my crotchety family member was as simple as limiting the time Sonny Boy spends with them, but that is not an option, I want them to be a part of our lives (no matter how many times I see that vein in the side of their neck almost burst because they forgot the ketchup after they sat down at the dinner table).  Besides, I had an ornery grandpa growing up and I don’t flip the bird every time the person driving in front of me doesn’t use a turn signal, so I know there is hope that Sonny Boy will escape the clutches of a grumpy disposition. Although, I can’t help but wish that sometimes we could alter those around us…even if it is just enough to allow us to eat at the pizza parlor without a rant about how many times the waitress passed our table without refilling the water glasses.


  1. I like to think that when kids grow up they will use those people as characters in a story, or movie, or play they might write.

    One time, my 7 year old corrected a grumpy comment from an older family member. A waiter didn't come back to the table as soon as expected. Grumpy Family Member made a negative comment. My son said, "They have a lot of people to help. They'll come back soon." I smiled such a big smile, secretly.

  2. I love that! What an excellent example of a great kid combined with good parenting!

  3. Most days I'm afraid I AM that person. I can only hope my kids grow up to do the opposite of some of my least lovable behaviors.