LAUGHLINES: Ducking the Truth Is a Quack-Up

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My cousin is complaining these days that her kids don’t listen to her, and she’s convinced there’s some weird medical malady that’s causing the problem.

It’s so much easier to believe that your children are acting out because they have a hormonal imbalance, a food allergy, or one-in-a-million virus that’s short-circuiting the behavior center of their brains. Any of these would be better than the alternative explanation, which is simply too horrible to consider: that you’re a lousy parent and your kids are brats.

Most of us assume that the most complicated, convoluted answer is the correct one, don’t we? Famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart didn’t go missing because she had a lousy sense of direction or forgot to check the gas gauge – she was abducted by aliens.

Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a vast conspiracy that included Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Fidel Castro, Jimmy Hoffa, the Mafia, and the Radio City Rockettes, right? Don’t tell me he was just a looney guy with a high-powered rifle.

The pyramids? Built by aliens. You can also credit those little green guys with crop circles and the giant designs in the Andes you can only see from the air.

Elvis? He didn’t die sitting on the toilet. No, he’s living happily and anonymously in Des Moines, hanging out in donut shops and working at the A&P. Fame was too much to handle, so he pulled off the world’s greatest vanishing act.

The fact is, we don’t want to know the facts. We don’t want to admit that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. The pyramids were built by thousands of slaves who didn’t get even minimum wage, and never took time off to see the dentist or get to that great sale at Kohl’s. Elvis died on the crapper (pardon the expression) after over-exertion due to chronic constipation caused by prescription drug abuse.

Sure, the truth isn’t pretty, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, odds are, honey, it IS a duck. Sorry. It’s not a prehistoric bird that lay dormant in a glacier in the Arctic until it was freed by global warming-induced melting.

And your kids? They act out because you’re not raising them right. They scream because it gets them attention, not because of some incredibly rare disease, or a genetic mutation that afflicts one-in-a-zillion children.

In this case, as in countless others, the duck theory applies. Sorry, cuz.

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.

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