My mom recently told me how she decided to act in impossibly difficult arguments with others.
In arguments where your opponent has said something about which you’re ready to tie his limbs to four horses and stretch him until he bursts at the seams, but because of societal pressure you must just keep quiet, bite your tongue, hold your tongue, wrap up your tongue in a tortilla and eat it, fry it and toss it on fresh green salad, chips and a beer to-go, that’ll be all, thank you very much!
And other variations.
But mainly, shut up.
We’ve all been in one of those conversations with a friend, a relative, a loved one, or a random person, where your opinions end up clashing so badly that there is no way out of that pickle alive.
The conversation is likely to have started off with something about what you’ve read in the local paper earlier that day but then someone took a wrong turning and you both found yourselves in the opposing teams of WWI.
From what the local council did two blocks from your house the whole conversation swung into an eye-for-an-eye fight about how terrible your sister’s pet Meer, the meercat, was to have pooped in the neighbour’s driveway, which makes you and your family awful people.
Or, your opponent expressed a blunt judgement that made you want to yank his tongue out and make shoe laces out of it.
We often fail to “hold our horses” and retaliate by verbally attacking our conversing partner – in some cases, physically, too.
Now, I can’t help you in the second scenario – if you’ve decided to beat the guy for calling your dog a gerbil, then go ahead, punch him in the face.
But for those who often rush into saying something offensive, I think my mom’s alternative to keeping our mouths shut is a wonderful solution.
Perhaps, keeping quiet will keep our integrity intact, too.
My mom’s revolutionary suggestion to keeping your tongue in a take-away meal and not say something stupid is, to say something to yourself first (without anyone else hearing you), a word that is long enough to keep you quiet, while you’re saying it to yourself and, why not, funny enough to amuse yourself, while you’re saying it.
And the word my mom has decided she’ll say to herself instead of bite her tongue every time the need arose?
Pippi the Longstocking, of all names!
To be precise, Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking
Now isn’t that going to shut me up for good 10 minutes and save me from saying something stupid or hurting someone (back)?
Random person: “All bloggers are just stupid and waste their time”
In my mind: “Pipppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”
And, in case you get tired of Pippi’s name, you can use other amusing, weird-sounding, long-enough-to-keep-you-quiet words of your choice.
Here are a few suggestions:
Cockamamie collywobbles in a skedaddly way
A gaberlunzie went to a hootenanny and danced in his underpants
A nincompoop was sialoquenting rigmarole in the public pool
(All real words!)
Replace “bloggers”, in the above scenario, with “nationality”, “sexual orientation”, “religious beliefs” and you have loads of examples of judgements that our kids are likely to hear one day.
Sometimes you need to fight against unfair judgement.
Sometimes the unfair judgement comes wearing a worn-out tracksuit and a grumpy neighbour swimming in it, whose only friend is a ceramic duck in his garden.
Sometimes the judgement is fair, but it still hurts.
How they will respond to fair or unfair judgements is up to our kids and to the contexts they are in.
But when it comes to just letting it go, keeping it quiet with Pippi’s complicated name in the back of our mind is a good solution.