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Pig Newtons and Crosswalks

"I give her a Fig Newton, just to immobilize her, just to stop it, cause she loves Fig Newtons, I go, ‘Here honey, have a Fig Newton,’ and she goes, ‘They’re not called Fig Newtons, they’re called Pig Newtons!’ and I go, ‘No they’re not, they’re called Fig Newtons.’ And right away in my head I’m like, what are you doing? Why? What is to be gained? Why do you care? Just, yeah, Pig Newtons, fine, go ahead, good luck to you, go through life, see what kind of job you can hold down with s--t like that flying around your head, I don’t care, I’ll be dead. But for some reason I engaged, ‘No honey, they’re called Fig Newtons.’ She goes, ‘No! You don’t know. You don’t know! They’re called Pig Newtons!’ And I just, I feel this rage building inside. Because it’s not that she’s wrong, she’s three, she’s entitled to be wrong, but it’s the f--king arrogance of this kid! No humility! No decent sense of self doubt. She’s not going, “Dad, I think those are Pig Newtons, are you sure that you have it right?’ She’s not saying, ‘Dad, I’m pretty sure those are Pig Newtons,’ which would be a little cunty, but acceptable, I could deal with that. She’s giving me nothing! ‘No, you don’t know!’ Really? I don’t know? I don’t know? Dude, I’m not even using my memory right now, I’m reading the f--king box that the s--t came out of! It says it! Where are you getting your information? How do you f--k with me on this? You’re 3 and I’m 41! What are the odds that you’re right and I’m wrong?"
— Louis C.K.: Hilarious, “My 3-Year-Old Is A 3-Year-Old”

Overheard today on the bus:
Indignant Lady: I was just crossing that street over there and this car was turning and he almost hit me!
Bus Driver: You probably should have stopped walking then.
Lady: But I had the right of way! He almost hit me!
Bus Driver: That is why you should have stopped and let him go. Your life is more important than hurrying across the street.Wait.
Lady: But I had the right of way!
Bus Driver: They can write that on your tombstone then. "She had the right of way."

The lady shook her head, clearly frustrated that she wasn't getting the sympathy she had anticipated, and walked to the back of the bus.

Forget the fact that turning cars and pedestrians actually share the right of way in most NYC crosswalks. (A fact that no one, particularly high strung Upper Westsiders, seems to understand.) The bus driver had a point. This lady SO wanted to be right, so much so that it put her life at risk. Who cares if you had the right of way? Guess what, in the showdown of human versus car, car usually wins. So stop walking for a second and your angry, self righteous self gets to live to see another day.

To be fair, I am no stranger to this attitude. If I think I am right, god help the person who is arguing against me. Especially if she is four.

I've read the parenting books. I know how inappropriate, not to mention fruitless, it is to argue with a child. Yet I still find myself doing it. And why? Because I-AM-RIGHT, damn it! You will be hungry if you do not finish your breakfast. You will be cold if you don't put on this jacket. You will hurt yourself if you keep jumping off the couch like that. You are tired. How do I know? Because I have been four. Have you been 37? No? Well then maybe you should trust me. Also you keep rubbing your eyes, tripping over your feet and whining. (OMG, the whining.) You know who does all that? Four year olds. The tired ones.

But there is a better way, an easier way, to be right. It goes like this:
Me: Maya, you need a jacket, its cold outside.
Maya: But I don't want to wear a jacket.
Me: Ok.

Fast forward to five minutes and two blocks later.
Maya: Mommy, I'm cold.
Me: Hmmm.
Maya: Did you bring my jacket?
Me: Yes as a matter of fact I DID bring your jacket. Why? Because I am always right. And because I love you very much and I do not want you to freeze to death.

It's hard to let go. But the thing with four year olds is life is so much better when they figure things out for themselves. We have to let them fall down. Let them be cold. Let them go hungry. Let them make those little mistakes. You can gloat quietly while your little one shivers the whole way to school. She won't die. And tomorrow she will wear pants.

I know, I know. I like to argue too. We can work on this method together.

There's a better way to be right in crosswalks too. Look both ways before crossing. Remember that rule? If you see a car, stop. You can yell at the guy later, from the safety of the sidewalk.  Go ahead, be right. But be right with all your limbs intact.

And by the way, he has the right of way too.


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