Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Maybe Sometime."

My two-year-old is very into the art of sneaky manipulation these days. Cute and disturbing at the very same time. One of her favorite methods right now is to circumvent a "no" response from me by slipping a comment in that she hopes will leave the door open for the future.

An example:

(Sitting at the dinner table, Maya starts scraping the tongs of her fork on the table, all the while looking intently at me to catch my response.)

Me: No, Maya. We don't scrape forks on the table.
Maya: No, yes!
Me: No. The fork can scratch the table and damage it. Do not scrape your fork on the table, or we'll have to take it away. Do you understand? No scraping.
Maya: Maybe sometime.
Me: Um, no. We don't ever scrape forks on the table.
Maya: Maybe sometime.

"Maybe sometime". A crafty phrase. Not at all posed as a question, either! It's a very confident statement. A way of saying, "Ok, you win for now, but soon...very soon...I shall scrape away to my heart's content! Sometime..."

As always in the parenting game, there are situations where I choose simply not to fight the battle. If danger or damage are concerns, I'll finish the exhausting conversation. But often, it just doesn't seem necessary. For example, at the grocery store yesterday when she wanted to ride a lobster. "Honey, you're too big to ride a lobster," I said. "Besides, they're all wet and they might pinch you." After considering this reasoning briefly, she declared, "Maybe sometime." Or today when driving through the country, she pointed out towards a cornfield, framed by fences, a little creek and a small hill in the background, and instructed me to "Drive that way, Mama." I responded,"Well sweetie, we have to stay on the road, and the van can't drive through all of those fences and fields." *brief pause* "Maybe sometime." she said sweetly.

In both of these circumstances, I could have argued the point. Crushed her dreams by insisting that human beings aren't made to saddle up crustaceans, and that our mini-van isn't built for off-roading through the countryside. But instead, both times, I simply smiled and said, "Ok." I may regret it in the future, if these particular requests start coming fast and furious. But for now, she's satisfied. And she's happily holding onto the glimmer of hope that one day, Mama will open up the top of that lobster tank at Meijer and let her have a ride. Or that I'll veer off a rural road someday and we'll be lurching through the corn in our Toyota Sienna, laughing and cheering with every jolt. She'll have long enough to live with the realization that things like that can't happen. Sometimes I regret that I know better myself. For now, I'll let her dream. Unless, of course, that dream involves utensils and furniture...