TURNING THE TABLES



Having a smart kid can be a joyful, proud and rewarding experience. You get to be complimented by people, bask in the glory of having a kid that is above average and you feel the sense of pride that comes with being used as a reference point for the parent of a smart kid.

For me, having a smart kid evokes all of these feelings but it can also be a tad bit scary. Don't get me wrong, I like smart kids but they scare me. Aside from being smart, their wit can leave you speechless and looking slightly dumb.

Which is why I tend to think very carefully before responding to some of my daughter's questions because sometimes they're not always borne out of a desire to learn. They can also be borne out of a desire for mischief.


This weekend, my daughter and I took a road trip to Abuja. She is on break from school for the sallah holiday so as promised I took her to grandma's for the holiday. The drive was smooth. She sat in the back seat without incident. Kids have a way of making you notice things you have previously seen but never quite paid attention to. 

During the trip, she would occasionally say "Daddy, look at the clouds! They're so fluffy!" "Daddy the trees are so green." I was thrilled by her curiosity and observance of things I hitherto considered mundane. It was an amazing road trip. We stayed at my mum's house on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning we drove to my in-law's, where she was to spend part of her holiday. It was raining heavily during the drive. She is usually frightened by the sound of raindrops hitting the roof of the car or house, so she sat quietly with her hands over her ears trying to drown out the sound. When it subsided, she became chatty and that was when the "I'm going to make you feel dumb" part of her smart wit went into full swing. The following conversation ensued:
Aneesa: "Daddy, it's raining."

Me: "Yes, I know."


Aneesa: "Daddy, do you have an umbrella?"

Me: "No, I don't."
Aneesa: "Why?"
Me: "Cos I lent it to my uncle and I didn't get it back."
Aneesa: "Why?"
Me: "I never got around to asking for it."

Aneesa: "When we get to grandma's house, how will we get into the house without an umbrella?"
Me: "I'll park close to the door then carry you and dash in quickly."
Aneesa: "But we'll get wet."
Me: "Yes but we won't get very wet."
Aneesa: "But I have a cold and Mummy says it can get worse if I play in the rain."
Me: "We're not going to play in the rain, we're going to run into the house quickly."
There is a brief one minute pause:

Aneesa: "Daddy, do you have a raincoat?"
Me: "No, I don't have a raincoat."
Aneesa: "So how will we get into grandma's house without getting wet?"
Me: "I said I will carry you and dash in quickly!"
Aneesa: "Why did you give your umbrella to your uncle?"
Me: "Because he needed it!"

Aneesa: "But you also need it now."
I ignore her and keep driving. A little while later she carries on:
Aneesa: "Daddy, you gave your uncle your umbrella but you always tell me not to give anyone in school my raincoat so it doesn't get lost."
Me: "This is a different matter. A raincoat is more of a personal item of clothing. An umbrella is not."
Aneesa: "Daddy, you are a naughty boy. You gave your uncle your umbrella and now he has lost it."
Me: "Hey! You don't speak to elders this way. You don't call them naughty."
Aneesa: "But you gave your uncle your umbrella and he lost it."
Me: "He didn't lose it. I just never bothered to ask him for it."
Aneesa: "I will tell Mummy you lost your umbrella."
At this point I'm getting exasperated and wondering how a 4year old is playing mind games with me. Being the adult, I decide to regain control of the situation:
Me: "Aneesa, do you want to go to grandma's house?"
Aneesa: "Yes!
Me: "Do you want us to go back to Kaduna?"
Aneesa: "No. I want to go to grandma's house. I don't want to go back to Kaduna."
Me: "Then stop talking about the umbrella."
This did the trick. We drove the rest of the way in silence. We arrived at grandma's house and I proceeded to do as I had said I would. I carried her and made a mad dash into the house. Then I off loaded her luggage. She was determined to have the last word, so when I said goodbye she got her chance:
Me: "Aneesa, behave yourself. Dont be naughty and do as grandma says."
Aneesa: "Daddy, we are at grandma's house."
Me: "Yes I know."
Aneesa: "So if I talk about the umbrella now you can't take me back to Kaduna."

Me: "No I can't. But I can smack you."
She turns round and in her cutest most innocent sounding voice yells towards the direction of her grandma's room:
Aneesa: "Grandma? Daddy wants to beat me because he doesn't have an umbrella and I told him Mummy said we shouldn't go out in the rain and he took me out in the rain and I have a cold and the rain will make it worse."

Before I could wait to hear what the response was I bolted out the door, got into the car and drove back to Kaduna.
Morale of the story: When answering questions being posed by a kid, anything you say can and will be used against you as evidence.

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