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The little lawyers among us (trying to get their way)

by Traci Schumacher on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 11:07am

As a mother of three, I've recently concluded that children are natural-born lawyers. Skilled in the art of argument and trying to get their way, although often lacking in the finer art of logic, kids will remember what you've said (when it's to their advantage) and what you've done, and seek out the loopholes as needed.

The other night our 3-year-old, whose bedtime stalling skills are first-class, was making all kinds of demands just within the realm of our normal bedtime routine. He wanted it all in his perfect timing. Daddy had to say goodnight first, complete with hug, prayer, holding him, and reading a story. It would not do for me to attempt any sort of goodnight until all these parts were accomplished.

Next was my turn... prayer, hug, holding him, tucking him in, done. But one more sip of water. Okay, goodnight. Lights out. “But you forgot my nose spray!” he called. (We regularly use saline spray to help clear up his stuffy allergy nose.) Ugh. Loophole.

How can I possibly remember and anticipate every little thing to make bedtime smoother and less aggravating? How do we teach children about the spirit of the law (having a pleasant goodnight experience) versus the letter of the law (checking off a to-do list)? How do we teach them the beauty in the difference between justice (what's “fair” and required) and mercy (what's kind and generous)?

I know it's a long process of little steps and lessons that hopefully, eventually sink in and mold their character. In the meantime I hope to seek ways to avoid the loopholes and technicalities even as my little lawyers seek to exploit them!

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