Not too long ago, we were sitting at the kitchen table after dinner when the subject of mistakes came up. “Mistake” is a relatively new word to the kids and they were trying it out. I was mostly staying out of the conversation. It had been something of a long day at work, and I was enjoying being a spectator.
When they started agreeing that “everyone makes mistakes,” however, I had to speak up.
“Not Daddy!” I said. “Daddy doesn’t make mistakes.”
There was a surprised pause in the conversation, and then C (who is 4) smiled at me. “Yes you do! You make mistakes!”
“Nawwww…You make mistakes. Daddy doesn’t make mistakes.” The little guy looked at his mother for backup, but she was still stuck in that “what the heck is my husband doing now” mode. He turned back to me. “You make mistakes, Daddy. You make mistakes!”
“Nope. I’ll prove it. Tell me a mistake that I made.”
“Go ahead! Tell me!” I said, smiling.
The trick with this sort of approach, by the way, is to keep saying ”tell me” to the other person. Each time you speak, you interrupt their train of thought, making it harder to remember. It’s a sleazy trick that you hear on radio talk shows all the time. In this case, however, both C and I were smiling at each other, and he was giggling in frustration.
J wasn’t going to let it me get away with it, though. “You just made a mistake,” she said. “When you said you don’t make mistakes.”
C brightened and jumped on the bandwagon. “Yeah!” he shouted. “You make mistakes.”
“No I don’t.” I said
His face was a mask of triumph. “You just did. That was a mistake! See, you make mistakes!”
Darn that interfering momma! Now I was beaten. I couldn’t even state my potision without being wrong.
Fortunately, N came to my rescue. “You don’t make mistakes, Daddy. You don’t make mistakes.”
That kind of loyalty needed to be rewarded. I leapt to my feet and ran over to grab a bag of Skittles. “Hooray!” I said, “see? Daddy doesn’t make mistakes!” I gave the little guy 4 Skittles.
“Hooray!” he said.
C was outraged. “Hey,” he said. “I get Skittles too, right? I get Skittles!”
“Does Daddy make mistakes?” I asked.
“No Candy For You!” It was my best imitation of the soup nazi from that Seinfeld episode.
“Does Daddy make mistakes?”
He giggled. “No.”
“No Candy For You!”
He laughed at the suddenness of it. “Hey… I get Skittles!”
“Does Daddy make mistakes?”
J was (appropriately) horrified at me trying to bribe my oldest son to lie. “Daddy,” she said warningly, “what lesson are you teaching?”
She had a good point. “Um… how to be middle management?” I asked.
I continued the game with C a few more times, and am proud to say that he never cracked. He stuck to his guns despite the lure of Skittles. I gave him several Skittles as a reward for being such a strong little guy, and then he and his brother split the rest of the pack.