Oh hello. I see that you’ve decided to argue with a child. Allow me to assure you that you’ve come to the right place. I have over five plus years of experience arguing with children. Most of which I’ve lost.
But this abysmal track record has given me a wealth of insight into the minds of these adorable little psychopaths and I would love nothing more than to share my wisdom with you and do my part in taking down as many of these tiny despots as I possibly can. Solidarity, my fellow caretakers!
First things first, before beginning any rigorous argument regimen, there are some steps you should take to ensure your safety and well-being (and the safety and well-being of any and all children in the vicinity). If you are a pointer or tend to lean toward gesturing, some light stretching might be in order. Some positive affirmations in the mirror couldn’t hurt as well. Remember, YOU are the grown-up! They have no power over you! They weigh 35 pounds and have poor hand-eye coordination!
I also highly recommend doing some verbal exercises ahead of time since chances are high you will be dealing with rapid fire questions of “why?” and “why not?” and “but why?” and “how come?”. Personally, I find a little alcohol beforehand helps. Not too much, mind you. You have to keep your wits about you. But just enough so that my head doesn’t explode from the absolute absurdity of what’s happening.
Which brings us to Tip No. 1. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to use logic. Children are not rational beings. They’re not even irrational beings. They are walking impulses housed in tiny, sticky, meat suits that are hell-bent on destruction and chaos. Logic merely bounces off them and comes right back to hit you in your stupid rational face.
Tip No. 2, show no fear. Children can smell weakness with the same alarming accuracy as they can hear a candy bar being opened from four rooms away. If there is even the slightest bit of hesitation on your part, they will pounce, sink their tiny little teeth into that hesitation and never, ever let go. To avoid this, I find it helps to have a ready-made mental list of responses. Let’s try an exercise that you can practice with an adult partner:
“Can I get a cell phone?”
“Because you’re five.”
“Jasper is five and she has a cell phone.”
“Jasper is not my kid.”
“But I want a cell phone.”
“I want to not have acne at 38 but we don’t always get what we want.”
“I need a cell phone!”
“No, you need oxygen. The rest is just a bonus.”
“If you were a nice mom you’d get me a cell phone.”
“If I were a nice mom, I wouldn’t be Mom, I’d be Grandma.”
“Will Grandma get me a cell phone?”
“Because I’m her kid and if she even dares brings this up, I will ‘but why?’ her to death.”
Tip No. 3, do not be distracted by their insults. When children feel they are losing an argument, they typically resort to verbal assault. “You’re a Mr. Poopy Peepee Face.” “I stupid hate you, stupid Mommy.” Etc. Most of these are harmless but be ready for some to hurt. Kids are incredibly adept at homing in on what bothers you most. “Yeah, well, you’re a girl so then why do you have a mustache, Mom?”
Tip No. 4, make sure there are no loopholes. Kids love jumping through loopholes and they never, ever get tired or run out of energy. Or want a nap. Just imagine that every time you give a vague answer or agree to something (under the guise of “compromise”) that you are not dealing with a child but rather a genie or a monkey’s paw or some other supernatural phenomenon that you have to be very, very, VERY specific with. For example, to a kid…
“Let me think about it” means “Yes.”
“I don’t know” means “Yes.”
“I don’t think so” means “Yes.”
“Maybe later” means “Yes” for eternity.
“No” means “ask again in seven minutes.”
Tip No. 5, do not remind them how good they have it. Kids don’t care. Because IT IS NOT GOOD RIGHT NOW AND WON’T EVER BE GOOD AGAIN UNLESS THEY CAN DO THE THING OR HAVE THE THING OR EAT THE THING.
Tip No. 6, lie. Yes! It is ok to lie to children. In fact, lying is the only reason adults have managed to keep our tenuous hold on the upper hand. “Oh, but I would never lie to my child,” I hear a few of you more naive parents saying. But you will. Because in order for us to remain in power, all of us parents have to hold the line. So, the park is closing, the store completely ran out of ice cream and it is against the law for kids to be up past 8 p.m. on a school night.
And lastly, do not assume you’ve won. Ever. Just wait. Somehow, some way, this will all come back to bite you in your ass. You merely won the battle, not the war. The war is not won until you get to watch your children argue with their own kids as you secretly hand your grandkids more sugar to add fuel to the fire.