Monday, July 21, 2008

Vignette: Spelling it Out for Michael5000

Michael5000 is hanging out in the backyard with the Boy, his friend's eight year old son. Noticing some dry plants, he hooks up a nozzle to the hose.

Boy: You better not shoot me with that weapon!!

M5K: It's not a weapon, silly dude. It's just the hose. I'm going to water some plants.

He waters some plants.

B: Well, you better not spray me with the hose, because then my clothes would get all wet!!

M5K: Don't worry. I promise I won't spray you with the hose.

M5K waters some more plants.

He does not spray the Boy with the hose.

B: Hey! You sprayed me with the hose!!

M5K: What? No I didn't, you goof. Not even close!

B: Well, you better not spray me!

M5K (not really paying attention): OK, I won't spray you.

B: Because that would get my clothes all wet.

M5K: Uh-huh....

B: But, these are my swimming shorts. It's just my shirt that shouldn't get wet.

M5K: Uh-huh....

M5K continues watering the garden for a while....

B: Michael?

M5K turns to see that the Boy has taken off his shirt and is just wearing the swimming trunks.

B (very politely): Could you please spray me with the hose?


Chance said...

Yeah, us teacher-types saw that one coming. I woulda sprayed him at "you better not."

Jessica said...

That particular boy has mastered the fine art of reverse psychology (not to mention numerous other rhetorical devices) years ago. :-P

Yankee in England said...

This reminds me of a story my Mother in Law tells of my Husband. When he was about 5 a new new rule was implented that on their weekly trips to Grandma's house they were not allowed to ask for sweets but had to wait to be offered them. On their first trip after this rule was imposed they arrived to find Grandma frosting cupcakes she had baked that morning. With a killer smile my cheeky Husband walked up to her and said "My mummy made cakes this morning I wonder if your cakes taste as good as my mummy's" Therefore being given a cake without asking.

gl. said...

oh, that is AWESOME! i know you didn't do this intentionally, but i love the idea that you got him to ASK for what he wants rather than goad you into it. i'd like to think you've helped to make him a more direct, less passive-aggressive person. :)

Michael5000 said...

@gl.: I would put it a different way, though. I was impressed that he kept thinking about different strategies until he came up with one that worked. I tend to react differently to most children then they are used to, I think, and The Boy can be a little puzzled by me, suspecting that I might be messing with him (which, I suppose, I often am). So I was proud of him for sticking with the unfamiliar situation until he found a solution to the hose problem.

@jessica: I enjoyed the extent to which this particular boy has learned a lot of rhetorical frameworks... without having much to put in the frames yet. Several times I saw him "tell a joke" -- he has the pace, the rhythm, and the manner of a joke's delivery down cold -- except that he didn't really have a joke to tell, so he just strung together a series of increasingly incoherent random sentences. Which was, after a fashion, hilarious.


Afterwards, I turned on the sprinkler, which is a big whirling type that The Boy had never seen before. He watched it, fascinated. "Do you think that kind of sprinkler is safe for humans?" he asked.

I played "Simon Says" with him a little bit. "Simon says 'jump up four times,'" I said, and he jumped up four times. Then he snuck a look at the sprinkler.

"Simon says 'spin around in a circle,'" I said, and he spun around it a circle. Then he looked at the sprinkler.

"Simon says 'lie down on the ground,'" I said. He gave the big grin of someone who is too smart to fall for that trick. "No," he said, "you're trying to make me get hit by the sprinkler." I looked with some amusement at the sprinkler over at the other end of the yard.

After a brief and inconclusive discussion of what actually happens when Simon's instructions are ignored, I said "OK, then, Simon says 'run around like a crazy person.'"

He thought about this for several seconds, and then happily ran into the sprinkler, dancing around in the water while at the same time trying to ward the jets off with his arms. After a while, he happily ran back over to me and said, "I ran into the sprinkler, because only a crazy person would run into the sprinkler."

jovaliquilts said...

We always knew when it was time to put our older to bed. She was just a toddler, but she would come up and say, "I'm not tired," or else, "It's not bedtime." That was our cue...

Michael5000 said...

I fondly remember a time we were visiting the Boy's family when he was a much smaller Boy. We were all hanging out happily, when suddenly the Boy sat upright with a very concerned expression on his face and announced, "I don't have to go to the bathroom!" I've never seen his parents move so fast.

Anonymous said...

Aww! Very cute. It is that time of year. I love the sprinkler story too. Kids reactions to the non typical adults are my favorite to watch. It's like you can see the wheels turning.

Another favorite is seeing them use persuasive strategies you just know they either learned from television or from some other adult usually not the parents. Although, the cuteness depends on the show they are emulating. I have met a seven year old unctuous little bloke once that watched too much of something.

But this lad in my mind is a sweetie pie! And persistent too.