At the dinner table, Smartypants says to me, "Daddy, I don't want any more mushrooms." Her plate is full. She hasn't eaten anything. I ask her why not. She says, "Because my monkey eats bananas and Nana does to, and sometimes I eat bananas AND mushrooms, but right now I don't want to eat mushrooms OR bananas OR cheerios." Understand, there were no Cheerios anywhere near the table.
Unable to follow her logic, I say, "Very well. But you don't get any more food tonight if you don't eat what's on your plate."
She considers. It is, after all, a difficult decision for a three year old. She knows she'll be hungry, and she knows she'll want Barbie Fruit Snacks for dessert. What a conundrum.
A few seconds later, she picks up a handful of mushrooms, extends her arm away from the table, and subsequently drops the mushrooms on the floor.
Rather angry, I ask, "Why did you do that?"
She answers, "Because now they're not on my plate. I don't have to eat them."
And she smiles, impressed with her own brilliance. Once again, I've been outmaneuvered by the literalness of a child. When will I learn?
This post was originally shared on my at-home parenting blog, The Daily Writer, which has long since vanished. I’ve migrated many of the posts to this site for sentimental reasons.