Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Deceive a 3-Year-Old

The Boy is three. That means that at any moment in time he might be cute, cuddly, funny, hyper, silly, adorable, sullen, cantankerous, ferocious, or diabolical, or anything in between. It's often difficult to know what side of him is about to show itself. Actually, it's always impossible to know which side of him is about to show itself. He can be goofy and giggling one minute, and some kind of weird switch can get flipped somewhere deep in his cerebral cortex, making the giggles turn into sobs, and the goofiness turn into crabbiness, without anyone knowing what just happened. I don't think he even knows what happened most of the time.

Often, when the Boy is in one of his moods, he just becomes really stubborn. Overall, I would say that the Wife and I are doing a pretty good job at teaching our kids how to help out around the house, but some times, they all can be a little stubborn about it. At this stage, the Boy is the worst of the bunch. They all probably get their stubbornness from one of their parents, but I won't say which one of us it is because I'd much rather blame somebody else.

He was in one of his stubborn moods this morning, but in the past 4 years I have acquired some mad parenting skills, as the kids say, and was able to get him to do what I wanted, without him even knowing. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

It happened like this: Today was his day to go to Grandma D's house, and I was to play the role of his chauffeur. We were getting ready to leave the house, but I needed to load up a pile of boxes and bags that I was going to bring in to work. The boxes, while not huge, were too heavy for a 3-year-old to carry. But the bags were just some normal-sized plastic bags like you would get on a shopping trip to Target or Cub Foods, filled with a few random pieces of toddler-sized clothing. Nothing too heavy. Easily carried by a strapping, young 3-year-old boy. So, I asked him to carry out one of the bags. This was a very reasonable thing to ask, I thought, since I was going to be nice enough to drive the Boy to his Grandma's house. You would think the least he could do was carry a couple of small bags of clothing out to the car for me. Right?

Wrong! You would have thought I had asked him to load up all the tea in China, to paraphrase my Grandpa. He picked up one of the bags, and then stood there, yelling "No Daddy, it's too HEAVY!!!!!" over and over. The thing is, he didn't drop the bag, he kept holding it, and with only one hand. So it was obvious to a trained observer that it, in fact, was not too heavy. He, apparently, just didn't want to carry it out to the car for me. He was being a stinker, and I wasn't happy about it. Nor was I going to let him get away with it.

I coaxed him out of the house with the bag, even though he kept yelling "It's too HEAVY!!!!" I was carrying two of the boxes, so I used that to my advantage. I told him, "I can't take your bag right now, Bubs, my arms are full. I'll take it when I put these boxes down." I knew that if I kept interacting with him, he probably would slowly follow me out to the car. He did, even though he kept complaining about how heavy the bag was. Finally, while standing next to the car, I said, "OK, I'll take your bag now." So, he walked over to the car and gave it to me. The yelling ended. I got him to do what I wanted. And he giddily climbed up into the car so I could drive him to his Grandma's house. I don't think he ever figured out what happened. I gotta admit it feels kind of good to outsmart my 3-year-old. I don't think I'll be able to for much longer...

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