Like most precocious children, I had no idea how annoying I was until I became an adult. When I was in the second grade, I saw my teacher drinking a cola on her break. I told her that I was concerned for health and that sodas weren't good for her. I can't remember why my mom was at school that day, but after witnessing me administer this smug little health tip, she took me aside and said, "Sometimes you need to keep your opinions to yourself." I didn't understand her criticism. I may have even said something back like, "She'll thank me one day."
But now I get it. Because if there's anything former know-it-all kids can't stand, it's current know-it-all kids. How else to explain my white-hot hatred of the elementary school kid with a column in the local paper?
Normally, I wouldn't go after a kid in this kind of forum, especially one doing something "positive." But his last entry about an educational vacation trip really sent me over the edge. It was well written considering his age, but it was also pompous and full of no-shit, Keillor-lite observations and asides that would rankle anybody over age 12. When my husband hears me grumbling, "Good one, Captain Obvious," he just walks over and takes the paper out of my hands. I've tried not to read the thing, but it's like "The Family Circus" at this point. I can't look away.
For one thing, this kid's columns make painfully clear just how insufferable I and my little posse of apple-polishing, climbing nerds must have been. I didn't have a newspaper column when I was growing up, but the hometown paper once asked me and a handful of other kids what we liked about Easter. Instead of just riffing on jellybeans and Easter eggs like a normal 7-year-old, I droned about "the resurrection of Christ." It's even more horrifying to see the accompanying mug shot, in which I am wearing pigtails and a self-satisfied grin.
As much as I'd love to open fire on some of George Will Jr.'s specific writing crimes, that seems too mean. But when I told my friend K. that I see the kid walking to school sometimes, he said I should roll down the window and yell, "Your column sucks!"
In addition to being horribly wrong, it would only give him something else to write about.