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I Swear I’m Not Making This Up

June 16, 2010

On 3 Year-Old Logic

One of the coolest things about the Kid being 3 is his increased capacity for reason. After a couple years of feeling like I’ve been talking to a brick wall (a brick wall, that is, who sweetly smiles and then continues doing exactly what I’m trying to prevent), it’s so refreshing to explain, for example, how the trampoline will still be there in 30 minutes, after we eat our dinner–and actually have a chance of being understood and therefore preventing a tantrum!

Plus it really helps to have a child who can grasp the concept of consequences. You see, threats have so much more weight behind them now. If I say, ‘I’m not going to read you another chapter of The Magic Treehouse unless you cooperate and go wash your hands this minute,’ I get instant results. The only problem is that we find ourselves having to be judicious about just when to establish ‘consequences.’ Because even when they are only 3, kids can see through an empty threat like it’s a bubble. And man, they love to pop them. Therefore, we have to be willing to follow through (which quickly put an end to the ‘no episode of Curious George before bedtime’ warning, since we’re really punishing ourselves if the Kid doesn’t get his 30 minutes of TV time to unwind/zone out/allow Mommy to pour a glass of wine start dinner).

Sometimes those preschooler mental wheels start clicking along at an amazing–and/or alarming–rate. Following are a few choice examples from the last couple weeks, word for word, I promise.

The Kid: Mommy, when I get bigger and bigger, I can ride mine bike without training wheels?

Me: Yes, that’s right, once you’re a little bigger…

The Kid: Mommy, can you help me get bigger and bigger?

Me (suppressing a smile): Well, sweetie, you WILL get bigger if, um, you keep eating your vegetables.

The Kid: Can I have some veg-da-bulls now?

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Me (reading aloud): ‘Those aren’t pretty fish!’ yelled Jack. ‘They’re piranhas! They have razor sharp teeth and will eat anything, even people!’

The Kid (interrupting forcefully): Mommy, I don’t like mean piranhas. I only like nice piranhas.

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The Kid (on returning from school one day to an unusually silent courtyard in front of our flat): It’s quiet. Why’s it so quiet, Mommy?

Me: Gosh, it is really quiet. I don’t know why.

The Kid (in a stage whisper): There’s must be something going on.

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And now, my personal favorite:

The Kid: Mommy, when we get back from the US, then Didi going to be born. [Note: ‘Didi’ is the Kid’s nickname for the baby, which means ‘little brother’ in Chinese.]

Me: Yep, after our trip to the US, we’ll come back to Shanghai, and then after a few more weeks, Didi will be born.

The Kid (with a frown and a visible effort to process it as a new idea dawns on him): But Mommy…how are you going to get Didi out?

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