Humor @ Home: Stop Arguing! I'm Not Arguing!
by Julie Willis
by Julie Willis
Aug 29, 2023
The only thing I really want, it turns out, is kids who do not fight.
At least, that’s what my actions seem to show.
I taught my kids to write. I told them, “You can get what you want when you can write, when you can form a logical argument. You can persuade people. You can change the world.”
Now my thirteen year old never stops arguing.
“Stop arguing,” I say. “End of conversation.”
“I’m not arguing,” she argues. “I’m just saying–”
Uh-huh. Arguments are just a staple in our home. My children have very important “we’re not fighting” fights about everything. Like this one about setting the table:
Ashley: You forgot the napkins.
Sam: Get them yourself.
Ashley: I hate getting the napkins. Besides, it’s your turn to set the table.
Sam: I did set the table.
At last I interrupted that ridiculousness to say I would forever be in charge of napkins, if they would just drop it already. That was five years ago. Guess who still puts the napkins on the table? Every. Single. Night.
And even that has not brought the fighting over napkins to an end. Now the napkin controversy goes something more like this:
Me: Hey, that’s my napkin!
Ashley: Oh, it is? Sorry.
continues to wipe her mouth. And fingers. And the table. With my napkin. Until, several minutes later,
when I see her steal someone else’s napkin.
Ashley (looking innocent): You weren’t using it.
So I get up and bring four extra napkins to the table. Which she proceeds to use.
Yes, all four of them. Then Samantha steals her napkin back from Ashley and turns it inside out and says, “I don’t know why you wanted a new napkin. This one is perfectly fine. Almost brand-new. You just have to use the other side.”
Oh, the logic in this family.
And I only have myself to blame for this lovely persuasive essay my ten-year old wrote:
“I really could use a phone. If I had a phone I would not have to use my mom’s phone for pictures or music, and I would never miss the pictures that I would have wanted to take.
I still need to work on showing I'm responsible enough for a phone. Once my parents see that I'm not spending too much time on my screen, and I do my chores, hopefully they'll let me get a phone.”
Who taught that kid to identify with her reader? Oh, wait. That was me.
Shortly after writing that essay, she left the following note along with a $20 bill on my husband’s desk: “I want to help out when–IF–I get a phone. Don’t give it back, please.”
And that part of me that was buried under years of actual parenting–the part that judged parents who gave their preteens cell phones–started breaking down. And all the while, deep down, I was saying to myself, “Do not fall for the rhetoric of a ten year old.”
I am forever fantasizing about the day the fighting will end. When we can all just get along. When the napkins and the cell phones work out all their issues and only enter our lives to make peace.
In the meantime, if you come to my house, be sure to bring your debate skills. And extra napkins.