No one likes a hypocrite.
But just about all of us, in some way, shape or form, have been guilty of being one at some point.
Quit shaking your head and disagreeing because you know it's the truth.
"What's a hippocritamus?" Cole asked me one day.
I was momentarily confused. Did he mean hypothesis? He has told me he has his own hypothesisimises about things, he just needs to set a few things on fire first to prove them.
He also told me a few years ago while he wanted a hippotatmus for Christmas he wasn't sure who was going to clean up after it when it had accidents.
Or did he mean hypochondriac?
So I was not 100 percent sure what he meant.
"A hypocritamus," he repeated. "You know, you were talking to Nennie the other day and I heard you say someone was being one."
Note to self: Make sure little ears didn't overhear my big mouth. No telling what was coming out of my mouth. Who was I talking about, I wondered.
"You mean hypocrite," I corrected.
"Okay, a hypocrite then," he said. "What is that?"
"A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be one way when they really aren't," was the best definition I could come up with.
"Oh," he said, thinking. "So were you talking about yourself?"
I think sometimes this child is too smart for my own good.
"No!" I exclaimed. "What makes you think that?"
"Don't you remember how you said you didn't like someone and then you saw them in the grocery store and you said ‘hey,'" he reminded me.
"That's different. I was being cordial, Cole."
He didn't like that answer. "But if you don't like someone, why do you smile and say hello. You said if they were on fire -"
"I know what I probably said, but, sometimes, part of being an adult means you have to get along with people and pass and re-pass with them even when you don't like them. It's the civil thing to do."
This was one of those gray areas and for my child, there is no such a thing. There is black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. Mama saying at home she didn't like someone and then smiling and speaking made me look like, well, a hypocrite.
I stuck to my theory.
I was being an adult who was trying to navigate those people placed on my path that I would rather not have to deal with but sometimes had to.
And living in a small town, guess what? You're gonna run into those folks at some point so you may as well learn how to exist in the same zip code.
But my child thought I was a hypocrite.
No, I will tell you what's a hypocrite. The person who spreads gossip about another, thinking their own yard is properly tended.
It's that person who portrays themselves to be so sweet that butter wouldn't melt in their mouth to your face but the minute you are out of ear shot, they are running you down the river.
The one who pretends they are spotless and shameless and do nothing wrong, until they are caught red-faced, red-handed and well, I'll let you use your imagination for the other.
I am not a hypocrite. I am just one who realizes as adults we have to walk a precarious line that vacillates between what we really believe and what we know.
And what we know is, we may not like certain people or situations but we have to make the best of it.
As Cole and I headed to the store a few days later, his opinion of me still stinging, I was telling Mama about someone I didn't particularly care for and why. Cole decided to chime in with his two cents.
"Mama, if they really did that, I don't think that's right," he said solemnly. "Are you sure they did that?"
I nodded, and continued with my diatribe to Mama. Cole was still preoccupied with this news.
"If they did that, maybe they aren't a good person like I thought," he continued.
"Cole, sometimes, people will do things because they think they can get away with them. But this person has always been sneaky like this," I said.
"But you liked them anyway?" he asked. "I don't think I am going to like them anymore. I don't care how long I have known them."
I sighed. "Well, I wouldn't go that far. I know how they are - and always knew - and let's leave it at that. And I knew they were a tricky, tricky son of a biscuit eater."
No sooner had those words came out of my mouth then around the corner of the aisle came the exact same son of a biscuit eater I was talking about.
"Hi!" Cole and I both greeted cheerily in unison. "So good to see you, have a great weekend!"
We exchanged glances as we continued on our way, making sure to be out of range of the person before we spoke.
"Mama," my child began, knowing good and well what just happened. "Does that make us both hypocritamuses?"
I patted him on the back and said "Pot, my name's Kettle, how do you do?"
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."