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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks


Everyone knows about consequences, right? We especially learn about them when we’re young because our parents talk to us about them. A lot. “Oh you can do that if you want to, but there will be very real consequences.” They apply to almost everything - whether good or bad. The consequences of doing something stupid or ridiculous in a family that jokes a lot can be daunting.

I remember playing a trivia game one Christmas, and my brother-in-law was trying to get the family to guess Picasso. For his clue, he said, "He painted the Sistine Chapel." Everyone shouted Michelangelo. Uh oh! Paul looked at his brother and said, "In 60 seconds they're going to realize you're an idiot." It’s a horrible feeling waiting for the jokes and knowing full well that they won’t end until you’re dead.

Madi has been no exception. She has taken her fair share of ribbing. We have always told her that we are sure she will need therapy after this kind of upbringing; we just want to make sure she gets her money's worth. She accepts that a little too easily I believe.

Despite all the teasing, we have always tried to be careful joking with her so that she learns to take a joke, but also that it never goes so far as to hurt her or give her a complex. Hopefully we were successful, but who knows?

When I drive on I-85, I am usually in one of two moods. I am either listening to Pink, Imagine Dragons, or the Violent Femmes way too loud and driving way too fast, or I am in the far right lane listening to Steve Tyrell, Laufey, or Rose Betts, and thinking deeply.

Last week I was driving down the highway and was actually somewhere in the middle. I was going the speed limit, or close to it, and looking at what was going on around me. There was a black SUV with a decal in the back window that said My Kids Are Buttheads. I was taken aback, and maybe a little horrified. I was indignant on behalf of her kids.

After witnessing her driving for a few minutes, I decided that if her kids were indeed buttheads, it might be more of “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree“ kind of thing.

All the way home I kept thinking what it would be like to be her child. We all know that occasionally our parents think we are knuckleheads, but to plaster it on a car window? To be reminded every day?

Do we in our society today, spend enough time building each other up? Not even close. I wouldn’t trade our family’s joking and teasing for anything in the world, but the quiet, little compliments that come around every once in a while go a long way. Will a compliment fix all our woes and heal all our wounds? Certainly not, but as Benjamin Alire Soenz said, “To be careful with people and with words is a rare and beautiful thing.”

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Melissa Slayton
Melissa Slayton
Sep 25, 2023

We have told Natalie her whole life we were giving her something to talk to the therapist about...

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