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Meredith Leigh Knight Columnist

Published Friday, August 31, 2012

Mom gets her first 'Duh'

My kids are in high school and middle school, which means — despite my college degree, work and life experience — I am officially the dumbest person in the house.

I spent the first half of their life answering profound questions such as why is the sky blue and which is tougher a rhino or a crocodile, and suddenly, I’m relinquished to giving advice that I know is unnecessary.

My son went on a white water rafting trip with Boy Scouts, for example. Knowing he’s getting older and will be fine doesn’t stop me from giving him advice. Not knowing much about rafting, however, presented a problem. I found myself saying things like, “Do what they tell you to do.”

Real profound, Mom, real profound, his look and my inner voice said.

Then I added a few more the next day: Bring your bathing suit, wear your sunscreen, oh, and bug spray. Wear your bug spray. Bugs are bad this year. Sometimes I wonder if it weren’t for sunburn and mosquitoes if moms would be of much use to boys his age.

As they got ready to leave, my husband held up a handful of things. I couldn’t tell what they were, just saw that they were all shapes and sizes.

“Look what we’re bringing,” he said.

“What are they?” I asked, thinking perhaps they were flashlights.

“Knives,” he answered.

To which my son, my favorite son, added: “Duh!”

I looked in amazement. Less than a month into middle school, and I had gotten my very first “Duh.”

“I can’t believe you just did that to me,” I said.

Misunderstanding what I meant, he said, “I’m sorry, Mom. I forgot to hug you,” and came over and gave me such a happy squeeze that I forgave him instantly.

I know if I really want to impress him, I could take the time to learn about guns, knives and sports. I’m aware that I have a lot of room to grow in that area. I once called a touchdown a home run, which is apparently a sin, especially in the South, where you’re supposed to be born knowing better.

But I have been a mom long enough to know that a milkshake after the game will cause him to soon forget, and forgive, my ignorance. And what impresses him more is not my knowledge, but the fact that I’m willing to take him to Wal-mart at 8:30 p.m. after a long day of work to let him buy a tank that shoots airsoft pellets, an item he knows I care nothing about.

I may not know the difference between a Tommy (airsoft) gun or a semi-automatic, but I’ve allowed him to try to teach me to shoot one, and I’ve made him laugh when the one time I hit the target was when I looked away. I may not be able to recognize a knife when I see one, but I hope he’ll remember the time I insisted we find a knife store so he could stop and buy a souvenir before we left Alaska.

My husband always talks about how his mother would take him to the Army/Navy store and let him spend hours looking. She could not have cared less about anything camouflage, but she loved her son, and he knew it. I hope my son will feel the same way, too.

And, someday, when he’s an adult, and I tell him I love him, I hope he’ll look at me and say, “Duh!”

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