Monday, September 1, 2008


I have mentioned before that, in many respects, our four year old is our most strategic child. And unlike our eldest her motives are far more sinister. Child No.3 likes to win and what is more it is simply for personal satisfaction.

An incident just the other day highlighted her powers. We have a consistent routine at dinner time. When you finish you take your plates to the sink, wash your hands and go upstairs for bathtime. Same routine. Every night.

Child No.3 has a mission: to skip the 'taking your plates to the sink' part. In the past, she would take advantage of distraction and slink her way upstairs. She would say nothing but something always told me later on that she was secretly pleased. She understood that to gloat would invite attention and she would lose. Usually, by the time we discovered the omission, it was too late. She was in bed or something.

But we were on to her. That, however, has only made her more crafty. The other night we had friends over for dinner. Child No.3 left the table and took one plate but not the others to the sink. She then returned and put on her most dimpled smile and asked her mother if she should wash her hands. Her mother, of course, said yes. Child No.3 then pranced off to the bathroom.

I remarked, "you know she just tricked you, don't you? Her plates are still here." And then I went on to explain to our friends what would happen. "She will emerge from the bathroom and make her way upstairs. However, I am going to call her back to do the rest of her plates. She will then immediately appeal on the basis that she had her mother's 'permission' to skip that step."

And sure enough, Child No.3 came out of the bathroom. Just as she was turning to go upstairs, I called her back to do her plates. Right on cue, without skipping a beat and pointing at her mother, "But but she said I should go and wash my hands." I insisted and she relented., "Awwwu." She wasn't upset but I could see she was already working on the next day's move.

My worry, of course, is that this is what she does at four. And this is just for the dishes! What are we going to do later on?