Learning to Spit
By Chick Moorman
"Grandpa, will you teach me how to spit?" my eleven-year-old grandson asked me a few years ago. Hey, that's what grandfathers are for. Most mothers won't teach their kids to spit. It's a dirty, ugly habit, you know. Many fathers don't teach their kids to spit either. They'll teach how to hit a baseball or how to ride a bike. But they are fully aware of the fact that mothers don’t like fathers who teach kids to spit.
Good thing there are grandfathers. Somebody has to teach kids how to spit.
Yes, I taught my grandson how to spit. We worked on learning to get a saliva ball together in your mouth and on how to get it in the back and cock the firing mechanism by squeezing your cheeks together to create the right amount of pressure. Sucking in enough air and expelling the air and saliva all in one coordinated motion had to be explained and practiced. Several attempts were needed to refine this important skill. I wish you could have seen the smile on my grandson’s face when he uncorked a huge expectoration that landed several feet in front of him. Talk about improving a kid's sense of self-esteem!
No one had to utter some global, sappy, manipulative piece of praise like, "Good job." He could see the results in front of him on the ground. Instant feedback. Self confirmation. Success. "I can do it!" he probably thought to himself.
You might think spitting is a waste of time, an unimportant skill to teach a child. I beg to differ. Consider the helpful and useful learnings that can be attached to a gob of spit.
1. Spitting against the wind is not helpful. It is more useful to go with the flow. After all, swimming upstream is always more of a struggle, isn't it?
2. What goes up must come down. You might not want to look up when you spit unless you are pretty sure where it's going.
3. Shoes look better when you spit-shine them. It you don't think so, do one shoe with a spray bottle and spit on the other. See which one gives you the greatest feeling of accomplishment. Unless, of course, you don't shine your own shoes—in which case, it's another issue.
4. Spit in your own yard. Spitting on the school floor or in your living room is not a good idea. Choose your places to spit and remember, you have to pick your spot in life to do certain things.
5. Spit in the presence of someone other than your mother. Mothers think things like spitting are revolting. Spitting in front of your mother is asking for trouble. Plus, it is important to respect most of your mother's desires.
6. If it doesn't taste right, spit it out. This refers to food, drink, music, activities, anger, frustration, and tobacco. It also works with friends. If they don't treat you like a friend . . . you get the idea.
7. Watermelon-seed spitting contests in your backyard are healthy competition. It's a time to have fun. Winning and losing here is not a measure of your self-worth. Celebrate everyone's accomplishments and learn from others.
8. You can get spitting mad instead of fighting mad. Angry with someone? Go outside and spit. Want to hit someone? Go for a walk in the woods and pretend to spit on them. Return when you are all spit out.
Grandfathers have to do their job. Tomorrow, I'm going to buy my granddaughter a jackknife and teach her to clean it by wiping it on her pants. Somebody has to teach these important life lessons. I'm up for it.
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are co-authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. Visit their blog at: www.uncommon-parenting.com.