Parental logic is an elastic thing, often stretched during moments of stress or sleep deprivation.
With young children, disciplinary concepts need to be kept brief and simple. Logic hardly enters into it. Although I vowed not to repeat the refrain of my parents: "You'll do it because I said so," I've learned that debating a preschooler is useless.
Children at this age have a logic all their own: Wear the parent down with irrelevant and time-consuming questions.
So, when my son and I are at loggerheads, I reach for the shortest, most plausible explanation that makes clear I'm still the boss.
But the holes in my logic are already showing, and I'm waiting for the day when he calls me on it.
A week ago, Ben looked as if he might be closer than I thought. We were at the video store and he asked why I wouldn't let him rent the cartoon version of "Tarzan." My stock answer for anything that takes too long to explain is, "You're too young."
"But Mom, you just said I was a big boy," he said, with an accusing look in his eyes.
It's true that, on many occasions, I have told him that he's a big boy, and big boys don't whine, throw toys, or ask to be carried.
With a preschooler's grasp of the concrete, my son had uncovered a flaw in my answer. How, I could see him reasoning, could Mom say I was too young for the video, but too old for other stuff?
Before we went any further down that road, I stepped in. "You are a big boy," I said calmly, "but you're still not big enough to watch 'Tarzan.' "
It was a comeback that even big-shot lawyer Alan Dershowitz couldn't have improved on.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society