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High stakes arguments about nothing

Submitted by on Monday, 2 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published May 1, 2008, thehive.modbee.com

“I’m swinging higher!” Big Guy chirped.

“No, I’m swinging higher!” his 10-year-old cousin countered, pumping her legs harder.

“No, I’m swinging higher!” Big Guy insisted, his face contorted and red with effort.

“I’m swinging higher!” she returned.

Big Guy jumped off his swing and turned toward her. “Lookit, this is an argument about nothing. Can we just stop?”

If I were the fainting type, I would have swooned on the spot.

It’s not unusual to hear your 4-year-old echo your words, but they’re usually the four-letter ones you shouldn’t have said. Rare are the times when they repeat something that you’ve been harping about for weeks and thought they never would get.

Arguments about nothing has been our theme of late.

The worst one had been just hours before the cousin came over, when Big Guy and Little Guy were going at it over Popsicle color.

Clearly, Big Guy’s was the coveted yellow and Little Guy’s was green. But Little Guy didn’t see it that way.

“Lellow popsicles! Lellow popsicles!” he grinned.

“No, yours is green,” Big Guy said, in part to rub it in that he’d won the lemon lottery that time.

It’s an on-going controversy in our house this week – both guys prefer lemon, but there are only so many lellow popsicles in each box. I try to settle by a blind draw and alternating who gets the first one. Someone, of course, is always unhappy, but at least they get to take turns feeling screwed.

“Mine lellow!” Little Guy said, a little more loudly. His brow was beginning to furrow, which always is the first trouble sign with him.

“No, yours is green!”

“Look, you guys are arguing about nothing,” I told Big Guy. “You know yours is yellow and his is green. But he sees his as yellow, too. You’re right, but you’re not going to change his mind. That’s the way 2-year-olds are. So let it go.”

“Mine lellow!” Little Guy said.

“Green,” Big Guy replied, but at least he muttered it under his breath and let it go.

And then, a few hours later, Big Guy used my strategy. I have to admit, arguments about nothing are one of my pet peeves. I’ve seen people go at it for hours, friendships disrupted for years over issues so inconsequential I couldn’t believe they were being debated.

I also have to confess that I’ve been a willing participant at times, though not to the point that it’s reached the friendship-disrupting stage.

Lately, though, time is too short to waste it getting wrapped around the axle about things that really don’t matter.

Like whether a Popsicle is green or yellow.

My strategy has its hazards. I don’t want the guys to grow up thinking that there’s nothing worth arguing over, because some things are. Toilet lid up or down. Dodgers or Giants. Obama or Clinton.

I also realize it’s the annoying phase du jour for them. Big Guy literally has argued that the sky isn’t blue.

And he was right, on a technicality. The fluffy white clouds proved his point. I conceded, and we moved on.

Little Guy has picked up his debate habit – I suppose it’s a nature versus nurture thing, which is another pointless argument because you can never truly know.

With two sometimes-truculent little boys still feeling their ways through this world, the combination can be explosive. Particularly when the stakes are as high as lellow Popsicles.

For one shining moment, though, all was right. Big Guy stopped arguing about nothing.

The sun was brighter and the birds chirped more happily the rest of the afternoon.

I’m still not sure what color the sky was, though. I didn’t want to ask.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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