Thursday, March 21, 2013

Did I really just say that?

There is a concept in the law (an exception to the "rule against hearsay" to be specific) known as the "excited utterance."  In a nutshell, things people hear others blurt out in the "heat of the moment" are given slightly higher weight than regular old over-heard stuff because, the theory goes (and I am over-simplifying here, so don't go quoting Moore's Federal Practice on me), folks are more likely to speak their mind honestly under Sudden High-Stress and those over-hearing such sudden blurts are more likely to remember them accurately because of the intensity used in aforesaid blurting (ah lawyer, verbosity is thy name).  Now, this may be enlightening in the context of an investigation or trial, but it is downright worrisome when you apply the erstwhile aphorism to what can come out of a parent's mouth when their offspring induce Sudden High-Stress.  It's not so much that what is said is any less "honest" than the usual parental chatter (to the contrary, they are mostly raw unfiltered truth) but that the sentences themselves border on the nonsensical to the overhearing ear.  Both uttering parent and over-hearing "witness" are left with something that everyone agrees was said, but without a whole lot of context sounds daft, at best, or insane at worst (which is most often the case, naturally).  To illustrate, here are some Sidney induced excited utterances; imagine hearing these coming from inside an apartment or on the street without having the context:

Don't grab the poop!

We do not throw food in this house!

Don't pee ... don't pee ... don't pee!

Fine, you want to push buttons?  Now you watch QVC!

I said don't grab the poop!

We do not punch the puppies!

Please don't lick the window.

Did you just poop in the shower ... again?!

What are you doi ... oh no you don ... OH SERIOUSLY?!

Please don't lick the coffee table ... again.

Under what set of circumstances is flinging dinner helpful?

My point?  When your kid doesn't make you sound like a wandering sage dispensing wisdom, he makes you sound like a raving lunatic with stress-induced tourettes.  Then again, most of Nietzsche's writings indicate this is a thin line to begin with. 

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