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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 7, 2010

Now Mom has 2 pranksters to deal with

By Michael C. DeMattos

From the day she was born, I've contended that my daughter inherited my "personality" and her mother's good looks. I wanted some evidence of paternity and I figured that my sense of humor was my best trait. Even my mother-in-law describes me as "unique," which I suppose is her way of saying "odd but acceptable." What started off as wishful thinking years ago has turned into prophecy. Now my wife has two pranksters in the house instead of just one, and I am not sure she can handle it. She was hoping for encourageable and got incorrigible.

It's a crime, really. In a just and fair world, my daughter would have inherited both her mother's good looks and her gentle personality. In fact, she would have also inherited her judgment, intelligence and constitution. The jury is out on those latter three traits, but early signs give us reason to hope.

Mom is stuck with us, and to add insult to injury, she has now become the butt of our jokes. Actually, I know how it happened; she is just too nice. Mom is an easy mark. The woman who would no sooner tease another soul than hit them has become the road to giggleville for my daughter and me.

To her credit, Mom rolls with most of our hijinks. Every once in a while, she'll even get a zinger in herself. When she does and it's rare we usually feign psychological injury. Even when she is dishing it out, she is catching it. There is just no winning for Mom.

Twenty years of marriage have taught me that there is a cavern between what my wife can take and what she will take. Clint Eastwood once said that a man has got to know his limitations. He was close; a smart man knows his wife's limitations. A smart kid knows when to play with Mom and, more importantly, when to stop. My daughter is still learning this. So even while I fear that my daughter and I may be too much for Mom, my bigger fear is for the kid. There have been many laugh-fests at the dinner table that ended with a kick to the shin and a commanding glance silently imploring my daughter to stop before it is too late. If she thinks I look mean when I am angry, wait till she sees Mom.

Yep, the kid inherited my personality alright. She is a real chip off the old blockhead! It could have been worse, though. She could have gotten my looks that would have been tragic.

Michael C. DeMattos is on faculty at the University of Hawai'i Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Born and raised on the Wai'anae Coast, he now lives in Kāne'ohe with his wife, daughter, two dogs and two mice.