Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I don't work at Hooters.

We've taught my son many things in his three and a half years of life. It was a common enough progression: First, we taught him the names of objects (door, apple, hat). Later, we taught him numbers, letters, colors. Then we taught him the 50 states, and other such things. Now, though, we're sort of stuck in limbo as we halt the teaching process and struggle with trying to unteach him something he mistakenly picked up from his well-meaning father: We're trying, with sporadic success, to teach him that his mommy doesn't work at Hooters.

There's nothing wrong with Hooters, I suppose, other than the crappy food. But since I don't work there, I don't need him telling his teacher and classmates at the Mother's Day Out he attends two days a week that I work at Hooters. I don't want him tell his grandma and great-grandma that. I don't want him telling anyone that. Not because I'm anti-Hooters. But because I DON'T WORK AT HOOTERS.

It started like this: We live near a Hooters. My husband, like most men, gets all slack-jawed and inexplicably happy at the mere sight of the sign as we pass it on the highway, so he cheerfully threw it into the rotation of objects to point at and identify for Jake as we drove to and fro. "Look, Jake, there's a water tower! There's a gas station! There's Hooters!" He was rewarded with Jake then subsequently naming these items on his own thereafter. "Look, Dada! Dere's a wata towa! Dere's a gah tation! Dere's Hoodahs!" Brian was so cheered by the sound of the word "Hoodas" coming from his son's mouth that his excited response to Jake's observations telegraphed to my son that this was indeed something noteworthy.

So far so good, and pretty cute. But then.

Apparently one day as Jake and Brian were in the car by themselves, Brian took the extra step of informing Jake that "Hooters is where the pretty girls work." He only said it one time, apparently, but Jake remembers every single thing you tell him except how to put his underwear on correctly.

Backing up a bit, I'll tell you one more thing about Jake. He tells me I'm "pitty" about ten times a day. He got this from Brian, too. Brian often tells me I'm pretty, and Jake started copying him maybe a year ago. Never mind that Jake also thinks that ugly tramp Dora The Explorer is pretty; I take my compliments where I get them, and I appreciate them no matter how limited the judgement of the giver may be. So I always say, "Thank you, that's such a nice thing to say."

Recently Jake's standard, "Mama, you're pitty," has morphed into, "Mama, you're pitty, you work at Hoodas." I tell him, "No, I don't work at Hooters. I teach at the gym." He knows I work at the gym because he goes there with me 5 days a week, but still he refuses to accept what I'm saying. "No, you're pitty, and the pitty girls work at Hoodas." Not wishing to disparage the fine, upstanding ladies of Hooters, but also not wishing to be lumped in among them, I struggle to find a diplomatic way to correct him. "No, honey, skanks work at Hooters," was not the way to go. Instead, I tell him that not all pretty girls work at Hooters--but he holds his ground. He has even gone so far to tell me that his grandma is pretty, and that she works at Hooters. Again, not something I want him spreading around the playground. It's a rumor that's not good for me and his grandma, and it could throw Hooters into financial ruin.

I was having no luck retraining his brain myself, so I earnestly requested Brian's help. "You better convince that kid that I don't work at Hooters, or I'm going to tell him Daddy supports his meth habit by blowing guys at the bus station." So Brian began putting his best effort into changing Jake's mind.

After a couple of days of "Mommy doesn't work at Hooters" speeches, Jake changed his tune. Now he tells me, quite frequently, "Mama, you're pitty. I know you don't work at Hoodas." He will say it that way maybe 3 times in a row, with the 4th one sounding like this: "Mama, you're pitty. I know you don't work at Hoodas. But you DO work at Hoodas!" Gak. Like all men, Jake is obsessed with Hooters.

The moral of the story, which I hope Brian has learned by now, is not to tell a 3-year old anything at all. Communicating with them by facial expression and football flags should be sufficient, and much safer. Which is why I plan to never let Jake know that on the weekends I work as a stripper at Big Bob's House of Poon.