My daughter Lainey is five years old and I love her. She asked me for something the other day and an argument began.
“Lainey," I explained, “you can’t cry every time I tell you no. Do you cry when your teacher says no?”
Lainey kept crying.
“Lainey, listen,” I persisted. “If you ask your teacher to go to the bathroom and she says no, do you cry?”
“Mrs. Hannigan always lets us go to the bathroom,” Lainey replied.
“Ok,” I sighed. “If you ask to sharpen a pencil and she says no, do you cry?”
“Mrs. Hannigan always has a sharpened pencil I can use. There’s a whole cup full of them at her desk.”
“She never runs out?” I asked.
“Nope,” Lainey said. “She has two pencils for each kid and she sharpens them before school so they are ready.”
“Ok, great,” I sighed. “So your teacher never tells you 'no' for anything?”
Lainey shook her head.
“You’re not using very good examples,” my wife informed me.
“What am I supposed to say?” I vented. “I’m sick of the kid crying all the time!”
My wife shrugged and giggled at my frustration.
“Dad?” Lainey asked. “Can we please have Chinese for dinner?”
“No, I said. Remember?” I yelled. “You just asked me that!”
“Pretty please?” Lainey cooed.
“No!” I repeated.
“Mom,” Lainey said, “can we have Chinese for dinner?”
“Lainey,” my wife replied. “Your dad said no already.”
“I’m never going to a restaurant ever again!” Lainey wailed.
Back to square one. These arguments have a circular pattern, which is slowly driving me insane.
I almost said, "Screw it. Let’s do Chinese." But I held my ground. The kid ate spaghetti that night at home and loved it.
Days later I offered a restaurant outing and Lainey refused, saying we should save money instead. Lainey doesn’t care what she eats, and those phony tears don’t fool anyone—she just likes to argue.