My Daughter Says I Gave Her the Gift of Sarcasm

7 years ago
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We took the girls Christmas shopping for one another the other day.

Kallan had $20.00 to spend on her sister. Nine-year-old Kallan loves to buy gifts for people, and she likes to get it right. She scoured the mall for bargains and ended up buying:

A small metal jeweled case in which she is planning on putting small candies.
A long sleeved T-shirt with the perfect color and pattern and amount of sparkle.
A bracelet and matching earrings of the dangly silver snowflake sort.
Five bottles of nail polish in assorted greens and blues.
And a bar of soap in the shape of a frog.

Total cost? $19.50.

She spent the last fifty cents on candy to put in the small jeweled case.

Kallan brought everything home and wrapped it all up. Placed her gifts under the tree. Kallan is delighted with her purchases, and she is all excited to see Maj’s reaction on Christmas morning.

Now . . . I am not saying Kallan played no part in what happened next. Kallan is rarely innocent, and she may have even started the fight.

But eleven-year-old Maj is the mistress of escalation.


Kallan cut the tags off of the gifts as she wrapped them. She wanted Maj to like the gifts without focusing on how much Kallan had spent on any one particular item. The small jeweled box cost an impressive $7.00, but the T-shirt was only $3.00 (marked down from $22.50). Kallan wanted Maj to just appreciate the gifts without focusing on the prices.

I totally get that.

OK, so some time passes. Because Kallan is Kallan, she forgets to clean up the wrapping mess she has left on her bedroom floor. And because Kallan is Kallan, she at some point picks a fight with her sister.

Like I said, Kallan is rarely innocent. So there is a fight of the Kallan-starting sort.

At which point Maj stands outside of Kallan’s room and gestures disdainfully at the mess on her sister’s floor, “You cut off the tags? How am I supposed to take back the awful presents you have bought me if you take off the tags? And you know I am going to need to take these gifts back. I am going to hate what you chose.”

These words reduce Kallan to hysterical weeping.


So then I have a talk with Maj. I am so pissed at her. She waits for me to finish talking, and then she says . . .

“I was joking, Mother. I was being sarcastic.”

“No, you were being mean and you really hurt your sister’s feelings.”

“No, I was being sarcastic. Because guess what? You have given me the gift of sarcasm, Mother. It is a gift I will cherish forever.”

“OK, well that right there? That was sarcasm. What you said to your sister was just cruel. She took a lot of time to pick out gifts she thought you would like. She loves you. She is excited about giving you her gifts. You were cruel.”

“Fine. I’m sorry. But she started it.”


That was two days ago. Yesterday? Kallan had two friends over and the three of them are up in Kallan’s room. They won’t let Maj in because, Kallan later explains, she is trying to tell her friends about the gifts she bought her sister.

So then Maj stands outside of the door and yells, “I hope you didn’t shop at Crazy 8 or Claire’s. Those are the lamest stores ever. If you bought stuff from those stores? I will hate those gifts. Baby stuff . . . that’s all those stores have.”

Those are two of Kallan’s favorite stores, and she did some of her shopping in each of these stores.

So then Kallan is all heartbroken again and embarrassed in front of her friends, who she just this minute informed of the fabulous gifts she got from Crazy 8 and Claire’s.

Maj drives me insane.

So I call her down to talk to me.

She doesn’t want to come because, she says, “Even though I didn’t do anything wrong at all? My face is in the mood to look guilty and you are never going to believe me.”


So I talk with Maj again. I am so pissed at her. She waits for me to finish talking, and then she says, “Is that all?”

“No, that’s not all. If you say one more rude word to your sister about the gifts she bought you? One more word? I am going to let her select one of those gifts, and I am going to let her write her own name on it. You got that? Next bit of rudeness loses you a gift.”

Maj is incredulous, “Really, Mother? This seems like a reasonable punishment to you? Really?”

I glare at her, “Really, Maj. Really. Go apologize to your sister.”

She stomps away, “Fine. But I was just being sarcastic. No one understands my gift of sarcasm.”

I call after her, “Yes, well I hope you like that gift a lot, because it may be the only one you are getting!”

Later in the evening?

Maj comes to me with her final homework assignment before the Christmas break.

She is to interview one of her parents about the rules of good behavior that are most important in our house.

OK, so that is pretty awesome.

I have a lot to say.

Maj is all annoyed, “You are not supposed to talk about actual issues you are having with me, Mother. I don’t want to write down that I need to be grateful and polite to my sister. I don't want to write down that I need to be gracious. Who says that? You are supposed to speak in general terms, Mother. General terms.”

I laugh, “I will say what I want to say. Write it down, Maj! Oh, and put down that you are not allowed to correct your mother in a rude voice! Write that down, Maj!”

Gift of sarcasm, my ass.


Pretty All True

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