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Right makes happy

POSTED: February 8, 2017 1:00 a.m.

It started with a conversation about "Die Hard."

Somehow, my child and my mother were in a deep debate over Hans Gruber.

"He was a terrorist," Cole declared.

"He was a criminal," Mama insisted.

"Terrorist, Nennie, he was a terrorist. Do not go toe to toe with me on one of my favorite movies!"

The argument lasted two hours.

Cole took it to the mattresses, hitting Google to find the proof.

"Send this to your mother," he requested after taking a screen shot.

"Did you want to send her a message?" I asked, intrigued by their exchange.

Cole thought for a moment before he solemnly replied, "No message. I am right. This is the proof."

He's 12 and being right is a pretty big deal to him.

Google is his friend and somehow, he's learned not to just take an adult's word as fact.

"I am going to look that up," he will say.

"I am right," Lamar protests.

"We'll see."

This is almost an everyday occurrence.

He has to be right.

No one - and I mean no one - can just make a statement without it being argued.

Maybe my Mama is gonna finally get that lawyer in the family after all.

"You don't have to challenge everything," I will tell him.

"Well, if I am right, I need to tell someone."

Just when we think the debate is over, he brings it back to life.

"Remember the other day....."

Nothing is off limits. Current events, history, science.

My child has a point to prove and he will do it.

He may get it honestly - to a degree.

Granny always liked proving people and never gave up if she thought she was right.

Or let me rephrase: she was always right - she was just persistent to the point we caved and let her win.

Mama sometimes insists on being right but will dismiss the argument with her, "You can be wrong all you want; I know I am right."

I stubbornly disagreed.

Was I teaching my child that being right was all there was to life?

I hoped not.

Learning to be wrong can be difficult. It takes a strength of character that is something that the women in my family don't often possess.

I was telling Mama about a recent phone conversation that was almost like a scene from "Roseanne."

"You know, the one where Jackie had to call Nana Mary and tell her their dad had died," I said.

"It was Aunty Barbara," Mama corrected.

"No, it was Nana Mary," I said.

"No," Mama replied, her tone full of self-righteous. "It was Aunty Barbara."

"It was not. It was Nana Mary; the one played by Shelly Winters."

"Shelly Winters played Nana Mary but that's not who it was that Jackie was calling."

This went on longer than it should have.

But I was insisting I was right and Mama insisted she was right.

To add to the mix, Cole jumped in and said if his Mama said it, it was gospel.

Oh boy.

Kids hear what we say and watch what we do, don't they?

"Look it up, Mama! Google is your friend."

I did.

And I was wrong.

"We shall never speak of this," he whispered conspiratorially.

No...I was wrong. As painful as it was - and really, the pain came from debating about a television series from 20 years ago for 15 minutes - I had to teach a lesson.

I picked up the phone to call her back and said the words that no woman in my family has ever uttered.

"You were right; I was wrong. It was Aunty Barbara, not Nana Mary."

Mama was quiet for a moment, but not too long. "I knew I was right," was all she said.

"See - see!" Cole protested. "You shouldn't have said anything. Now, she knows she is right and she's never going to let you live that down."

I tried to assure my child it was OK. I didn't need to be right.

I took the higher road and admitted I was wrong.

"But, but..."

He didn't understand.

Mama is usually right. If I was wrong in this case, what else was I wrong about?

"Sometimes, it's better to choose peace over being right," I explained. "I'd rather be happy and have peace then have to be right. Wouldn't you?"

"No," he said solemnly. "I'd rather be right."

"But being right doesn't always lead to being happy."

"For me it does," he said.

Somehow, I failed in the execution of this lesson.

Being right was more important than happy-at least for now.

"Don't worry," Lamar said, trying to comfort me. "That will change when he gets married."

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."

 

 

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