Every conversation between a parent and a child, in four conversations.

Perhaps You Didn’t Hear Me, Dad. I Really Want It.

Perhaps You Didn’t Hear Me, Dad. I Really Want It.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Oct. 7 2015 10:30 AM

But I Want It

Maybe you didn’t hear me. I really, really, really want it.

Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo

Illustrations by Natalie Matthews-Ramo

1.

Child: Can I have this?

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Me: No.

Child: Ah, perhaps I’ve miscommunicated. I’m asking for it because I want it.

Me: I understood that, actually.

Child: I think maybe you’re not hearing me. I’d like it because I want it.

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Me: I’ve heard you quite well, I’m saying that’s not actually an argument.

Child: PERHAPS IF I SAID IT LOUDER.

Me: There’s no problem with my hearing. The problem is that your argument is, as the Romans would say, circulus in probando.

Child: Well then, let me offer this new information: I want it.

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Me: That’s the same information. That’s what you just said, and it’s also the information I assumed when we started.

Child: Well, can I watch YouTube?

Me: You also can’t watch YouTube.

Child: If I can’t watch YouTube, then can I have it?

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Me: No! Sorry. No. Why would you think you can have it now?

Child: What if I ask more politely?

Me: I support your decision to behave more politely, and it might increase your chances of getting the next thing you want, but it won’t affect your access to this thing now.

Child: Can I have part of it?

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Me: No. No, the having of it is what I’m saying no to. Having part of it is the same as having it.

Child: So can I have all of it?

Me: No! I’m answering the same question. The answer is no.

Child: Why not?

Me: BECAUSE I—Look. No.

Child: But, OK, look, here is some new information.

Me: Yes. What is it?

Child: I need it.


2.

Me: Put your shoes on.

Child: Let the games ...

Me: Nonononono ...

Child: BEGIN!

Me: Just put your shoes on.

Child: In the vacuum of space, are there free-floating molecules?

Me: Put your shoes on.

Child: Did you know that we don’t actually vote for president, we vote for people who vote for president?

Me: I don’t care, put your shoes on.

Child: I am.

Me: You’re not. Put your shoes on.

Child: Why do we have shoes anyway?

Me: Just put your shoes on.

Child: That reminds me, where are my shoes?

Me: What? They’re right there! Right next to your feet!

Child: Oh, these shoes?

Me: YOU ONLY HAVE ... I’m sorry. Yes. Those shoes. Your only shoes.

Child: Why don’t I have more shoes?

Me: No more questions, just put your shoes on.

Child: I can’t. I’m not wearing socks.

Me: Did you take your socks OFF?

Child: Well, I’m not wearing them any more, so it’s a fair bet.

Me: Put on your socks and then put on your shoes.

Child: I am!

Me: You’re not! You’re just sitting there!

Child: This is me putting on my shoes! This is part of it! All of this, this is the putting on of the shoes. It says in the I Ching ...

Me: NO. NO MORE I FRIGGIN’ CHING. PUT YOUR ... I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Just ... put your shoes on.

Child: I found my socks. They were right here next to my shoes.

Me: If you put your shoes on by the time I count to five, I’ll let you choose what we do next. One ...

Child: (with socks and shoes already on) YouTube.

Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo


3.

Me: OK, come eat dinner.

Child: This is dinner?

Me: Yes.

Child: I see. I see. So you’re saying this is dinner.

Me: It’s getting cold.

Child: But this is whole pieces of food that you’ve just … cooked.

Me: Yes. We’re eating something healthy for dinner.

Child: How can we be sure this is healthy?

Me: It’s healthy. And it’s dinner. Eat it.

Child: I had cold pizza and Skittles for breakfast, and then I got a 100 on my spelling test.

Me: You’ve stumbled into post hoc ergo propter hoc there, buddy, and that hasn’t worked since the second century.

Child: PERHAPS IF I EXPLAINED THAT I DON’T WANT IT.

Me: You can yell all you want, this is dinner.

Child: I think it’s cold.

Me: It’s not cold.

Child: Look at it. It’s cold. It’s gone cold.

Me: Eat it, it’s not cold.

Child: I’ll eat it if you eat it.

Me: No! That’s not the way it works!

Child: Why not?

Me: BECAUSE I’M THE GROWN-UP AND I SAID SO NOW QUIT ASKING ME AND GO DO SOMETHING ELSE BESIDES TALK TO ME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD OR I WILL LITERALLY BLOW UP FROM SITTING ON MY ANGER AND IMAGINING HOW MUCH TROUBLE I WOULD BE IN IF I PULLED THIS SHIT WITH MY PARENTS IN 1978!!!!

Child: Why are you yelling?

Me: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell, I’m really sorry. I’ll order pizza.


4.

Child: Where is Mom?

Me: Why do you need her?

Child: Sometimes one just needs one’s mother.

Me: I’m standing right here, perhaps I can help you.

Child: This falls under Mom’s purview, so …

Me: She’s busy right now, and I’m taking care of you.

Child: Busy where?

Me: Upstairs. But don’t go there.

(Child leaves room)

(Long pause, muffled discussion from upstairs)

(Child returns)

Child: I spoke with mom.

Me: So I gather.

Child: Mom says to ask you. Where is the thing from before?

Me: The thing I wouldn’t give you before?

Child: Yes.

Me: Why do you want to know?

Child: I’m a curious person. I thirst for knowledge.

Me: But you can’t have it.

Child: Boy, you are really jumping to conclusions here! I know I can’t have it! OF COURSE! I’m just curious.

Me: If I tell you where it is, will I find out that at some future time, you have the thing?

Child: Does anyone truly know what the future holds?

Me: So, there is a future where you’ve gone and gotten the thing.

Child: Hold that thought.

(Child leaves room)

(Long pause, muffled discussion from upstairs)

(Child returns)

Child: Mom says she’s busy and that you should just tell me where the thing is, because I promised not to get it.

Me: You promised.

Child: As Mom is my witness.

Me: You know you aren’t getting it, right?

Child: I just like to know where things are, in our house.

Me: The thing is on top of the refrigerator.

Child: Why did you put it there?

Me: Because I don’t trust you.

Child: But … how is that possible? I trust YOU.

Me: Thanks.

Child: I trust you so much that I know when I go and get a stool and bring it over by the refrigerator, and climb up it, the thing will be there.

Me: You promised you wouldn’t do that.

(Child leaves room)

Me: DO NOT GO TO THE KITCHEN. I SWEAR TO GOD IF I HEAR THAT STEP STOOL—

(Child comes back into room)

Child: Why were you yelling at me?

Me: I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled.

Child: Can I play on the computer?

Me: Yes.

(Child opens computer and begins watching videos on YouTube)

(Mom walks down stairs)

Mom: I specifically told you not to get on the computer.

Child: Dad said I could.