Irony has taken a beating over the years. Alanis Morissette confused it with bad luck. Post-modernism, heralding the End of Earnestness, confused it with insincerity. September 11 nearly killed it altogether. But it’s back, baby, and not just because 1) media wags like to add “meta-” to everything, and 2) hipster kitsch-diggers are slumming on over to the new Brooklyn Target and acting all disaffected toward the mass-produced stuff we parents buy by the cubic yard.
In truth, the purest sense of irony—of effecting the exact opposite of what you want—never left us. It lives on through our children.
Robert and I will be getting ready to go out and meet Mama, for example, and the boy will strip himself and run around wailing for Mama, unaware that his little nudie meltdown is delaying what he so dearly desires. He attempts to curry favor from our cat by trying to yank its tail off. He likes to help us clean by slapping dust bunnies around the house with the dustbroom.
Then there’s the wet sofa cushion that greeted me when I came home from class the other night. My wife explained that Robert was watching the Order of the Toileteers (part of the Bear in the Blue House DVD, which played a crucial role in his potty training), when he came over to her and admitted he’d had an accident. That’s right: the DVD that inspired him not to pee his pants mesmerized him so much that he peed his pants.
So that's ironic. (I really do think.) If we could write a whiny song about it, we could pay for college.