Monday, September 19, 2011

The Clock Goes Tock-Tick-Tock-Tick

Here's a skill I admire in a person: the ability to take a normal situation and add a creepy twist to it. I think my five-year-old made his first attempt at this the other night. And he did a pretty nice job of it.

In the ongoing battle to get our three-year-old to eat (see, perfectly normal situation, right?), we have of course resorted to the age-old strategy of pointing out to him that if he doesn't eat, he won't get bigger, stronger, faster, smarter i.e. he'll never become the Six Million Dollar Man. However, as social scientists have proven time and time again, the simple presentation of facts does little to sway most people or cause them to change their behavior. As such, it becomes necessary to employ a measure of propaganda.

"If you don't eat, you're going to start getting smaller."

I don't remember who said it first, me or my wife, but big brother totally ran with it. Every meal, if little brother wasn't eating, big brother was there to remind him that it was his very size, strength, and speed that he was putting at risk. And then he added another element to it: age. If he didn't eat the food that had been placed in front of him, not only would he get smaller, but he would start to age backwards.

Then the other night at dinner, he put this all together in a way that I can only describe as masterful. We were all eating, all of us but youngest, who sat just picking at his food and babbling.

"You're never gonna turn four if you don't eat," said eldest.

"But my birthday's coming!" said his brother. It's true, but then again, when isn't a person's birthday coming?

"That's right," said big brother, eyes growing wide. "And we're gonna have a party-"

"A party!?"

"Yeah. And there's gonna be a cake-"

"A cake!"

"Mmm-hmmm." He spoke in a low voice now. "And mama's gonna bring it out, and everybody's gonna sing 'Happy Birthday' and on top of the cake, there's gonna be a candle on it for how many you're gonna be, and it's gonna be a two."