Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are you being sarcastic?

When I was younger I used to think that sarcasm was the lowest form of humor. Cheap shots were for wimps that were lacking the intelligence to be truly witty. I'm not sure when I developed a taste for sarcasm but I am now most appreciative of a well-placed barb. While I know that I use sarcasm liberally as an adult, I was a little surprised when my kids called me on it recently. I took stock and realized that it's true - I've become very sarcastic in my 40's. But when one of the kids approaches me, like one did tonight, asking for my honest opinion of whether or not there will be a snow day tomorrow, a question I couldn't possibly answer and one that gets posed several times a week, and they weren't actually looking for an honest answer at all, I find it takes great restraint to hold back the snark. I mean, really, do I look like Al Roker? In any event, when your kids tell you that it's time to channel your gentler side, you should probably take them seriously. To be honest, I'm a little stumped as to how I set off on this course in the first place. I suppose the reality of life brought out the cynic in me and it's a short hop from cynicism to sarcasm. Still, while I can't say I'll be swearing off sarcasm entirely, I will be making an effort to tone it down with my kids.

I think my latent love of sarcastic humor developed, at least in part, through my love of children's books. I have to admit that my favorite picture books are the irreverent ones. I appreciate them because they are genius when it comes to wordplay and it is precisely the clever ability to play on words that appeals to me when it comes to sarcasm. Books written by Jon Scieszka and Mo Willems never disappoint. For the slightly older set, I love the cynicism and snarkiness in the Baby Mouse and Lunch Lady graphic novels. When it comes to YA books, let's face it, a sarcastic character is present in nearly all!

Try this clever tale on for size - take a look at What Really Happened to Humpty Dumpty by Jeanie Franz Ransom. The investigation into who pushed Humpty is full of suspects and puns.


  1. Sarcasm is sooo much fun! But I can see how it can be confusing for kids (I think we don't give kids enough credit though). My dad was the most cynical and sarcastic man on the planet - and we - my siblings and I - just 'got it'. It was funny to us.
    As educators we're constantly reminded to not use sarcasm with children, so I do my best to reserve it for home. :)

  2. By the way, I agree with you on Jon Scieszka's books. Since his visit, HE, hands down, is the reason why my daughter is writing more, reading more, and laughing more. :)