I often ask my children to do unreasonable things. When they ask me to cook or clean or launder, I sometimes ask them to do it for me instead.
“Daddy, will you wash my clothes?” Isaac asks.
“Isaac, will you wash my clothes?” I reply.
It is really a non-clever extension of the most non-clever retort. You know the one.
Person A: “You’re stupid.”
Person B: “You’re stupid.” B then grins stupidly, as if he really zinged A. That is the best that this retort gets. Often it looks like this:
A: “Your red plaid socks don’t match your purple paisley hat.”
B: “Your red plaid socks don’t match your purple paisley hat.”
A: “You do realize that I am not wearing either of those items.”
B: “Well, just because you are not wearing them, doesn’t mean they match.”
A: “I don’t own either of those items.”
B: “But, still.”
Just like the retort, sometimes my petitions are ridiculous.
“Daddy, will you let me watch a show.”
“Izzy, will you let me watch a show.”
“Yes, Daddy, I will.”
“Oh. I see what you did there.”
Having been tricked by a four-year old, but mostly by my dumb formula, we watch a nature program. The kids love nature shows. Probably this is a forced love. Nature shows are one of the few things we let them watch. Hopefully, there is more to it than that though.
One segment of the show follows a herd of elephants. There is a drought. The elephants stagger through the desert in search of water. As they search, some members of the herd succumb to thirst; in particular, a baby elephant. The elephant’s mother stays with the elephant until she can no longer afford to. She eventually leaves her calf to preserve her own life. It is sad and touching.
Isaac is revolted. Isabelle is thoughtful. A couple of minutes later she starts to cry. We ask her what is wrong. She says, “I don’t want you guys to give up on me if I am hurt.” Thanks a ton, nature.
We explain that we will not ever. We tell her that elephants and people are different. Although the momma elephant had to leave her calf, we will never leave our Izzy. No drought could separate us. No matter what, we are her parents, and we will never give up on her. She accepts this.
At night, Isaac asks if I will read a bedtime story to him.
Cleverly, as established above, I ask him to read me a bedtime story.
Cleverly, as in actually clever, he responds, “I will read to you. I will read to you every night. I will read to you ten books every night. I love you.” This is six-year-old battle at its best. He is not so much volunteering to do this as indicting me for not.
Isabelle chimes in. “Me too. I will read to you for as long as you want. I will read to you fifty stories. As many as you want. Really.”
She then adds, “And when you are hurt, I will never give up on you.” This is four-year-old sweetness at its best.