Since the beginning of time, there has been conflict and war, and so it will be until the end of time. The only thing that changes is the weaponry. We were once angry cavemen throwing rocks and hand-crafted spears at one another, until we stepped up and created the fierce and deadly bow and arrow, flinging it at each other's heads with poison on the tips. Then, some curious warrior came across a substance known as gunpowder, and the art of war was forever changed. Now, we find ourselves living in a world of terrorism; a world of pre-emptive attacks; a world where mind-numbing battles seem to be taking place in nearly every crevice of the world. Fortunately, I have discovered a weapon that, if used correctly, has the potential to destroy mankind quicker than carbon emissions.
Sure, there are rocks, and spears, and bows, and arrows, and bullets, and cluster bombs, and the splitting of atoms; yet, none of these horrifying weapons of war even come close to the damage we can inflict upon one another simply by "nagging". Sticks and stones may break my bones, but nagging will bring me to my knees, and within minutes I will find myself shivering in emotional turmoil, collapsed on the therapist's couch.
Webster's dictionary defines the word nagging as follows: continually faultfinding, complaining, or petulant: If the definition of the word still remains unclear, it goes on to list a fantastic example of how to use the word in a sentence: a nagging parent.
Was there any other example they could have gone with that suitably explains what "to nag" really means? A nagging girlfriend, maybe? A nagging wife? Of course, Webster's could have gone with my nagging kids, yet, interestingly enough, to properly convey the complexity and overall power of the word, Webster's went with "a nagging parent", and I firmly believe that they made the right decision. I can almost picture the brainy wordsmiths sitting around a table at Webster's International Headquarters, debating the best example of how to use the word nagging in a sentence when, all of a sudden, their cell phones went off in unison. I can picture them gazing down with trepidation at their vibrating blackberry's, only to see those two frightening words flashing across the screen in pixels ...Mom calling. ...Mom calling. ...Mom calling. Why, whatever could she want this time? "Don't forget to pay your bills." "Are you going to come to your nephew's birthday party four months from now, because I need to know?" "Did you RSVP to that wedding, because it's very rude if you didn't, and you don't have to go but Dad and I are going, so…?" "Oh, and you left a glass of water out on the kitchen table, and your clothes in the washing machine, and…" if you're still reading, then surely you get the idea. Witness the awe-inspiring power of… the nagging parent.
It took me until the ripe old age of thirty years to entirely understand the complexities of "the nagging parent." Now, coming to this understanding at the age of thirty either illustrates my newfound maturity and profound ability to deal with "the nagging parent", or, it simply shows my stunted growth from the years of 1 through 29. Either way, after trial and error, after years of torment and the therapy that follows, after endless phone calls with my friends that began with "I'm going to kill her", I have come to a rather comforting conclusion. See, it isn't about the "nag" itself, because certainly a little thing like a "nag" can be brushed off, ignored, or simply dismissed off-hand. No, I now understand that the "nag" is a symptom of a larger, more troubling theme: it's about control. It's about being a parent, no matter how old a child may get. Children inevitably devolve into these immobile appendages that burn through your finances, destroy your ability relax, and entirely eliminate the option of a good nights' sleep. Therefore, in return, Mom and Dad have earned the right to occasionally "nag", or so goes their theory. I am simply arguing that the "nag" is so powerful a tool, with its ability to crawl up into the subconscious and live somewhere deep inside the human brain, that it should be used only on the worst of enemies, and should no longer be reserved for the torment of loved ones.
After dinner last night, my mother decided to walk me around the house so that she could point out the glass I left on the coffee table, the clothes I left unfolded in the washing machine, the tea bag still in the sifter, the trash not properly disposed of, the uneaten food left in wrapped up paper-towels by the computer, and somehow my father miraculously escaped any accusations that any or all of these messes could have been created by him. So, I stopped and I took a long, deep breath; a major departure from my usual behavior of hopping in my car and driving back to my own house, stopping only at the nearest liquor store with my therapist on speed dial. This time, however, I realized that the "nagging", the rapid-fire repetition of the rules of the house, the endless parenting, that this is all my mother and father have left as they watch me grow into a responsible human being, capable of free-will and the occasional rational thought, no longer in need of parental guidance. And I imagine that there is nothing like watching your children grow old, get married, and move to a new, far-away state, to remind you that you are also aging, and you're the one with the head start. Therefore, "nagging" has become a psychological sport to Mom and Dad, a verbal volley of "do this don't do that", an Olympic competition for which they shall receive nothing less than the gold.
If "nagging" is one of civilization's most feared weapons, the atom-bomb in the war between parent and child, than what is the best defense? Certainly driving home and not answering mom or dad's calls will only leave one sleepless and guilt-ridden. Taking it out on a friend will leave one entirely alone, and yapping about it while on a date will make one sound totally infantile. Therefore, the only way to fight the "nag" is with a strong, swift "I'm not a child anymore!" Yeah, fire that baby right back at them and see how they respond. Sure, maybe I did leave the toilet seat up, Mom, and I truly am sorry that you fell in. And no, I did not rsvp to that wedding and as far as my nephew's birthday, let's cross that bridge four months from now, but hear me loud and clear once and for all: I am NOT a child anymore. I am a grown adult. Yeah. A grown, responsible adult, and you think I can I borrow a quick fifty bucks?
Anyway, the point is, resistance (or le resistance, in French), seems to be the only suitable defense in the wake of a "nagging" attack. As a child gets older, Mom and Dad will use the "nag" as the last torn thread of attachment, and/or ownership they have over the child. The constant need to parent, to teach, to impose rules, no matter how Stalinist this all may be, is simply an extension of Mom and Dad's love. And though it may technically be considered an act of torture as far as the Geneva Convention is concerned, Mom and Dad will use the weapon of "nagging" time and time again, until your nothing but a shell of your former self, out fifty bucks.
The bottom line is, never underestimate the power of a mother's nag. See, nobody knows how long we will stay in Iraq. And yes, finding Bin Laden may take a miracle. But we ought to re-evaluate the weapons we use, for maybe it's time to introduce a mother's "nag" into the theater of warfare. One "Osama, is that your dirty dish in the sink" and he'll turn himself in at the nearest army despot. One "Zarqawi, I hope you don't think you're going to wear that ratty T-shirt and flip-flops to dinner", and he'd have blown himself up. In fact, I wonder if Saddam Hussein turned up in that tiny spider hole out there in the desert because he was hiding from the powerful and almighty United States war machine, or was he simply trying to get away from his own nagging mother?