We’ve all been on the receiving end of some “special” phrases from our children, but this one has to my all time favorite. When my first child was still a toddler, she was very verbal, and could communicate very effectively at quite a young age. She was also very literal. She would follow the letter of the parental law rather than the spirit of the parental law. She was therefore VERY talented at finding loopholes in the directions that my wife or I gave her.
This development was actually amusing to us at first. I was in fact mildly pleased that my little 18 month old daughter could detect and exploit subtle vagaries or nuances to her benefit. It began to lose its charm as giving her directions or rules seemed to turn into the production of a legal document. In fact it began to get rather frustrating as her skill grew and grew.
Probably the most frustrating (and also the funniest) such exchange happened as our little. . .um. . .angel. . .first decided to assert herself if she didn’t like what mommy asked her to do. Unfortunately, the way she decided to assert herself was by trying to take a poke at her mother. After she tried to hit my wife, their conversation went something like this…
“Lizzie, you may not hit me. You can’t hit mommy.”
She then proceeded to kick my wife.
“Lizzie, you may not kick me. You may not kick mommy.”
She then gave my wife a head butt.
“Lizzie, you may not hit me with your head.”
She then bit my wife on the shoulder.
Every time my wife would add a new attack to the list of forbidden behaviors, our daughter would instantly come up with a different way to show my wife her displeasure at the whole situation. (Now that we’re on our fifth child we’ve gotten much more efficient at covering our bases the first time.)
At the time, we as parents thought that the whole keeping your hands, feet, elbows, forehead, teeth, knees to yourself rule was now fully covered. We found this wasn’t the case when she came to me one afternoon a week or so later and said in all seriousness, “Daddy, see that boy over there? He hit me back.”
It was all I could do to keep a straight face.