My kids are full of suggestions these days.
Some of them I don't mind following.
For instance, the other day my 8-year-old son suggested that I read a joke he'd just written. He titled it "THINGS YOU TRY NOT TO SAY TO A LAWYER."
Here's how it goes.
LAWYER: You're not telling the truth!!!
YOU: You want to know the truth? The truth is you have a humongous butt!
OK. It does trouble me some that my children feel perfectly free to say things around me that I would have never said to my own parents.
I would have never cracked a joke about "humongous butts" in front of them when I was 8 years old, for example.
I would not have even acknowledged the existence of "humongous butts" or even "regular-size butts" in their presence.
As far as I was concerned, in front of my parents, "butts" hadn't even been invented.
Still, my son's attempt at gag-writing made me laugh in spite of myself, and I decided to follow up by asking him the standard question everybody always asks a writer.
ME: Where did you get your idea from?
SON: You know. Dad.
ME: Excuse me. Your father does NOT have a large backside.
SON: I know. He's a lawyer, though.
He's right. His dad's a lawyer. Case closed.
Onto the next suggestion.
This one involved reading, too, but instead of suggesting that I read jokes written by an 8-year-old, another son suggested I read the book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," which definitely was NOT written by an 8-year-old.
My son said he thought the book would "help" me.
This suggestion was given with a perfectly straight face, as well as with the best of intentions.
My son is reading the book himself and loves it.
Still, I didn't take to his suggestion kindly because I felt a shadow of criticism behind it; i.e. that I should read the book because I am NOT a highly effective person and that I probably have a "humongous butt" as well.
So I stomped around the house, silently fuming and wondering why EVERYBODY and their dog feels entitled to make free with little suggestions whenever yours truly walks into a room these days.
I didn't come up with an answer.
But I did come up with a solution.
I'm going to make suggestions BACK, thank you very much, starting with some brief ones for the dog.
I will title them "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Dogs," which our dog is not.
1. Do not start sniffing people in embarrassing places when they walk through the front door.
2. Do not drink water out of the toilet bowl.
3. Do not eat garbage.
4. Do not leap into the front seat with me and start sticking your wet nose in my right ear while I'm trying to drive the car.
5. Do not challenge the vacuum cleaner to a dogfight while I'm trying to vacuum the living room carpet.
6. And while you're at it, why don't you get your "humongous butt" off the couch.