“What’s that?” my son said, pointing into the bathroom. As I looked to see what he was talking about, he ran in the opposite direction. At that moment, I realized that my son, at the tender age of three, had pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book.
I’m not the type of parent to brag about my child being “gifted.” But I do suspect that with a mom who often thought she was smarter-than-thou as a child (yes, me) and a father who’s an unrepentant wiseass, Sprout is already more clever than I am. Here are just a few of the ways:
Makes up elaborate scenarios and twists the rules to his advantage
Sprout has recently been obsessed with recreating the opening of the PBS Kids’ show Dinosaur Train. After announcing, “The eggs are hatching! There’s a crack! Hatch!” he’ll pop up as if he was a just-hatched baby dinosaur. Then he’ll declare “Time to get on the Dinosaur Train!” This is where it gets tricky. Somewhere in this sequence, we often need to do something, like wash hands for dinner. I’ll try to play along by saying, “Next station – the bathroom!” Which would be fine, except that mysteriously the “next station” is now after two tunnels, a lot of track, and God knows how many more distractions. But I’m still stuck with this “next station” business because I tried to be fun and play along.
Creates parody songs
Sprout is obsessed with poop. Perhaps it’s a finishing up potty training thing or just a three-year-old thing, but everything is poopy-this or poopy-that. That’s sort of annoying. What’s hilarious is that he’s made up parody songs about poop. Instead of “Five little pumpkins sitting on a fence,” he sings “Five poopy diapers sitting on a fence!” He then collapses into giggles.
Sprout knows that if I’m wrong and he calls me on it, I’ll fess up. So he apparently assumes that’s true of everyone. When we were at Museum of Natural History’s coral reef aquarium, a man next to us misidentified what type of fish Dory from Finding Nemo is. As I’m biting my own tongue, I hear a little voice speak up next to me. “That’s a blue tang!”
He’s definitely takes after me on this one. Once, six-year-old me questioned a park ranger on a whether a particular animal was a chipmunk or a ground squirrel. In the future, we’ll definitely need to have a talk about being polite in these type of circumstances.
Gives legitimate arguments against my decisions
Staying at my in-laws’ house for Christmas, we were surrounded by candy. However, I didn’t want Sprout eating candy for breakfast. So I set a specific rule – he could only have a “treat” if he had “real food” first. But of course, he remembered that rule when he got home. One day at 10 AM, he asked if he could have some of his left-over Christmas candy. I responded, “No, it’s still the morning.” He looked up at me seriously and said, “But I already had real food. I had cereal.” Good play kid, good play.
Realizes he can pretend he doesn’t hear you if you can never get a word in
Our house sometimes resembles an elaborate musical where only one member of the cast has read the songbook. Besides enjoying the sound of his own voice, Sprout’s also realized that he “can’t hear” us if he’s never quiet. I want to respect him and not interrupt, but getting a word in edgewise is often impossible. Even when you think he’s done, he takes a breath and announces, “The next song is starting!” What are you, a jukebox?
Realizes that if we’re laughing, it’s hard for us to be mad
The other night, he was supposed to be getting ready for bed. Instead, we were stuck in the post-dinner, pre-bedtime lull. In the midst of that, he picked up a chair and started yelling, “I’m running around with a chair!” It was so patently absurd that both Chris and I started laughing. What else were we going to do?
Uses the word “literally” correctly.
While I suspect Sprout will occasionally fall into the failure mode of clever, I’m hoping I can teach him how to use his wise-ass powers for good. If we don’t, we’re all doomed.
For more on the challenges and joys of parenting a “threenager,” check out The “But Why?” Phase and Parenting Fail: When I Don’t Like My Kid Very Much. For updates, be sure to like my Facebook page.