People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

-Isaac Asimov

Teenagers, store managers, bosses, teenagers, mothers, teachers, teenagers … sorry it’s a bit repetitive, but I have a 13-year old who thinks she knows more than me and it shits me.

The short list above is just the start of my list of people who think they know everything – or people who pretend they know everything.

I have been accused by my mother, on many occasions, of thinking I know everything. And I admit, at the time of the accusation, I firmly believe I do know everything about the subject at hand. I do not like losing an argument … and neither does my mother. The voice of reason in my head screams, ‘Shut up! Back down!’ But I can’t.

The same voice of reason screams the same words at me when my 13-year old is waxing lyrical about something she believes she is the expert on. At times I try to make light of it.

We have two expressions in our house, BOF and FOS, which I attempt to use to diffuse the situation. BOF refers to book of facts – the imagined resource book in my daughter’s head, written by her and all entirely true and real. FOS is simply full of shit – used when we want to tell her to ‘shut up’ nicely.

Sometimes just muttering ‘BOF’ or ‘FOS’ when she takes a breath is enough. If she laughs, I know we’re good. If she doesn’t, my voice of reason takes on an exasperated tone, warning me, ‘Walk away from this. You are the adult here, act like it.’

But my stubborn voice, the dominant one, sneaks in with, ‘She is 13, set her straight, don’t let her get the best of you … she is WRONG!’

It rarely ends well.

I know that I don’t know everything. I have said before that I refuse to pretend to my students that I know everything; I come down very hard on people, like shop assistants, who pretend they know something when they don’t. Maybe, though, I need to practise what I preach with my family.

Around my fifth year of teaching, when I was still teaching Japanese, a (probably) well-meaning colleague (who, incidentally, had no Japanese language and no knowledge of LOTE methodology) would constantly bail me up to give me advice on how to teach Japanese.

Our librarian at the time said to me, ‘She tries to tell me how to run the library too … just smile, nod and say thank you, what a great idea … then walk away and do your own thing.’

Wiser words have never been spoken. I need to remember them the next time my 13-year old, or some other know-it-all, annoys me.

Image courtey of topstep07 at

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