"But Mom, with the Shark you'll never lose suction and it's easy to maintain. With only four easy payments of $49.95, you can get the Shark AND the free Shark Steam Mop, which is a $99 value!"I don't know...never losing suction? He's got a point there, I guess.
The good news is I don't have to pay any attention to my son's hard sell because my 9-year-old daughter is doing my mommy job for me. She berates him for his naiveté as she tries to convince him that the advertisers want him to believe what they say, that the product just looks amazing, and that it's actually not a great deal.
The thing is just one year ago, my daughter was right there on that band wagon with her brother, trying to sell me on other house-improvement tools like Command hooks and picture frame hangers. But somewhere between eight and nine years old, the cynicism kicked in. Somewhere between crooked teeth and the first phase of braces, the skeptical side showed its face. Somewhere between Dora the Explorer and iCarly, the world taught my little girl to be a skeptic. I imagine it's developmentally appropriate, but it's all new to me given the path my son has taken.
I ask myself if cynicism is taught or caught, and in the case of my daughter, it has definitely been caught. But what about my son? Is it my job as his parent to teach him this characteristic? Or is it all right for me to let him live in gullible bliss, believing everything he hears (which he does) and also being incapable of telling a lie (even a white one)? Recognizing people's ulterior motives is an important skill, and my son needs to be taught this while my daughter has picked it up instinctually. Yet it pains me to have to consciously teach such an attitude of distrust.
I am reminded of the adage, "Ignorance is bliss." But I feel I would be remiss in letting my son walk through middle school with such ignorance since other kids will be quick to blow up his bliss given the first chance to mock him.
This is my task then...to teach my son to see the possible hidden lies, to understand there is bad to balance out the good, and to go through his days with the understanding that not all that glitters is gold - which is a whole other battle to fight since he takes everything literally. Euphemisms, adages, colloquial expressions...torture for a person with Asperger's.
I suppose I could sit back and let my daughter take care of things for me since she's usually eager to criticize her brother and teach him these lessons so painfully. Okay, there's my cynical side, which negates the above-asked question of whether my daughter's cynicism was caught or taught. At least I know I'm doing my job well with her.
What say you? Is cynicism a necessary survival trait?