What’s the Big Deal, Dad? You’ll Wash My Shirt Anyway
We both know that I’m already six years old, and that a six-year-old is very different from a three-year-old or a nine-year-old. But it appears that our sensibilities regarding proper behavior for a six year old differ markedly. I seek here to correct a number of important misconceptions you seem to have, and the consequent expectations you harbor, expectations that I contend are unreasonable.
Let us begin with your assumption that I hear what you have to say. I do often hear you, especially when the subject involves junk food or dessert. Say the word “pizza” and I’m all ears, even from two floors away. But quite frequently, for some reason, you choose to speak of subjects that carry no interest for me whatsoever: doing homework; putting away laundry; getting out of bed. My ears simply do not pass on to my brain the instances when such subjects are addressed; they constitute little more than background noise. So if you wish to gain or retain my attention, I recommend restricting the subject of your conversations to chocolate, play dates, fun visitors and exciting trips.
Another flawed expectation on your part involves my clothes. You seem to be under the impression that the mere presence in my dresser drawer of, say, underwear that fits, means that I will willingly don it. Not so. The red pair has seams that bother me; that green pair is the wrong color; I just don’t like the white ones. If no other pairs are available, I will not be persuaded to put on any of the ones I do not like. Just pretend they do not exist.
Let us move on to getting ready for school. I realize this is a sensitive topic, as you seem to get agitated about it almost every morning. I therefore recommend that, as I do, you simply stop caring about it. Anyway, Grandma tells me that you did exactly the same thing when you were my age, and when she talks about it, she has a gleam in her eye.
This brings us to the subject of my doing things you just told my older brother not to do. You seem to be under the impression that telling him not to do something somehow translates into my not doing it, as well. I have no idea where you got that idea. You were talking to him, not to me. He shouldn’t be throwing in the house, yes; you made that perfectly clear. But you weren’t addressing me, so why do you expect me to follow suit? We’re individuals, after all.
Along similar lines, when you do admonish me not to engage in certain activities, such as hitting my little sister even though she manifestly deserves it, I do not automatically apply that admonishment to all future occasions. Each situation is unique; I simply do not presume that yesterday’s rules of engagement still pertain today. Especially not when I don’t feel like following those rules anyway.
When you instruct me to put my shoes or boots upstairs in the shoe drawer, what you really mean is that I should dump them on the floor of my room and come back down. Similarly, when you tell me to put books away, you mean to lay them haphazardly across the top of other books, not to place them neatly, spine out, on the shelf; that would waste precious time I could use to provoke my brother and sister.
About the dining room chairs: while they do well as surfaces for sitting at the table, they function at their best when leaned back just so on their rear legs. This allows the user to play a balancing game. And at the table, it seems you misunderstand why God gave us fingers. I do not need a fork. And as for the mess that gets on my hands, that’s why I have a shirt. I don’t know why this seems so unclear to you.
I hope this little letter has cleared up some misunderstandings. I shall be only too happy to address similar issues if you require, but if you wish to discuss these things, please at least take into account what I have written above. Then we can move on to more subtle issues, such as holding off on going to the bathroom until the moment before my bladder would burst.