I routinely find myself on the losing end when a conversation includes my children. I’ll be trying to impart some teeny bit of parental wisdom and they’ll turn it on its head by applying their own warped child-logic. It’s maddening. Like when Mgazi asked me, “If you know the answer, why are you asking the question?” Or there was that time where I couldn’t talk her out of holding a kids-only wedding. And of course, that dreaded conversation in the car about why (oh why) did I slam her fingers in the car door?
If my children decide that they don’t agree with me, I simply will not win the argument. Because they sneak in this kiddie-verision of logic that I simply can’t outsmart. It’s become a real problem, constantly being outwitted by my children.
I described my challenge to my friend, Keely Flynn Schoeny who writes Lollygag Blog. She understood immediately.
It’s “brationale” she said.
She’s brilliant, that Keely. I had identified the problem, but she named it. Suddenly, I felt like it wasn’t so unbeatable after all. It only took a day or two before I got my chance to see.
I was picking the kids up from school. A classmate of Mgazi’s had celebrated her birthday and passed out goodie bags.
Mgazi: Mommy, Mommy! Look! I got a giant pencil!
She pulled it out of the bag and shoved it in my face. It was indeed giant.
Zaffy: That sure looks like a nice pencil.
Mgazi: Here, Zaffy. (She ruffled through the bag.) You can have the Strawberry Shortcake coloring book.
Zaffy: Strawberry Shortcake is for babies. (She shoved the coloring book back at her sister.) It’s not fair.
Me: What’s not fair?
Zaffy: Mgazi gets these presents and all she does is give me something that’s for babies. It’s not even what I want. It’s so not fair.
Oh my God!! It’s brationale! I can see it heading straight for me. I have to come out swinging.
Me: Zaffy, let me get this straight. Mgazi has been given a present. It’s hers. Not yours. And you think that you have a right to demand she turn over part of said present to you, her sister. Simply because you want it.
Me: Zaffron, is that what you are saying? Mgazi is supposed to give you her things just because you want them?
Me: Is that what you’re saying?
Zaffy: Well… no. Not anymore.
Zaffy: Mommy, what are you doing?
Me: Just a little dance, baby. Just a little dance.