A few weeks ago I saw someone on Twitter asking at what point kids go from asking a million questions to thinking you’re an idiot who knows nothing, therefore not asking questions at all. My own experience is limited to children up to age twelve, but so far, he still asks me a million questions. The difference between age four and now is that now when I answer him, he tells me I’m wrong.
At this point he’ll argue about anything at all. The temperature, how long it takes to fly to Disneyland, or what kind of bird that is in our yard. A month or so ago, we had this exchange:
Him: “What’s the date?”
Me: “The 17th”
Him: “No it isn’t.”
Really? I thought, really? You want to fight about this?
My favorite argument is the one we have about whether or not he argues about everything. That one always makes me feel like I’m in the middle of some kind of Dada-inspired performance art piece.
So far I haven’t gotten too many dismissive gestures, although I am proud to tell you that over the weekend my instructions regarding some chore or other were met with an eye roll and a “blah blah” puppet hand. So that’s quite a milestone. I have always maintained that while Tweens have embraced eye rolling as their own, they learned it from their mothers
The fact is, I can’t really be too surprised that he’d argue with a stop sign. One of my own earliest memories is standing in my crib, leaning on the railing while I jumped up and down on the mattress. My mother saw me doing it, and cautioned me against it.
“You’ll fall out and crack your bean,” she said.
I remember looking down at the floor next to my crib and seeing the soft fluffy blue oval rug with the white lamb on it—my “lambie” rug, as I called it, that was on the floor, and thinking, “No I won’t—my lambie rug is there. I’ll land on that and be fine.” I didn’t say it, but I remember thinking it. I was about two years old.
So with that kind of genetics it’s no wonder he looks at every verbal exchange as an opportunity for debate.
I’ve heard when they get to be teens they clam up. Instead of telling you you’re wrong and arguing about it, they just roll their eyes and turn up their iPods. I’m not sure which is the better choice. The silent treatment is probably more maddening (“You could at least answer when I speak to you!”), but I have to tell you that spending every waking minute of every day having my responses challenged by someone who can’t tell when his shirt is on backwards is pretty exhausting.