He's only four and he already thinks he's smarter than I am. He's learned how to give the look that says, “Seriously? I wasn't born yesterday you know?”
I give him the look back that says, “In the grand scheme of things... close enough.”
He's given me that looks twice in his life and they both happened last week. The first time he may have misinterpreted my amazed facial expression as defeat. I wasn't as much impressed with his problem solving skills as I was in shock that at such an early age he already thinks I'm full of shit.
The second time he gave me the look I was prepared and let him think he outsmarted me. I'm playing the long game. No need to sprint.
“Well played son.” Is what my face said. But my mouth added, “Listen little man. From your very first day of life when I turned powdered formula into food through a science you can't comprehend I've been smarter than you.”
The first debate that arose this week revolved around the construction of a Thomas the Tank Engine track. I've been building these tracks for literally more than half his life. He can mock my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but I'll be damned if I'll let him question me on my track construction.
The tracks on all these train sets are a one way affair. One side of the track only fits into the opposite side of a connecting track. We own a few switches that allow the tracks to branch off into extra segments but naturally you need another switch to connect that offshoot back to the main railway. Obviously, You Can't Have an Odd Number of Switches! Train tracks can't end in a dead end! Unless you have a roundhouse or a rail yard. Both of which we do not. We're not the Rockefeller's.
He was insisting on having 3 switches even while complaining that the line wasn't connecting. I tried explaining and rationalizing and drawing a diagram on paper and even ran off into a little bit of tangent with a premature birds and the bees talk when I demonstrated the “female” vs “male” ends of the tracks. “It won't work this way!” I yelled.
He added a fourth switch connecting the lines and said, “See daddy. It's easy.”
And that's when I gave him the face that said, “This is precisely what I've been trying to tell you. This isn't your idea you know?”
And he gave me the face that said, “What else don't you know?”
Now the second confrontation.
It's bed time and he wanted to read an E-book on a Leappad tablet. The battery was nearly dead (“like the goldfish Daddy?”) the night before and we finished the book just in the nick of time before I had to explain to him the difference between the alkaline batteries in his tablet vs the lithium ion batteries in daddy's cell phone. This is how conversations end these days. They start with, “Why daddy?”
Before we turned the tablet on I planted the seed that would flower in the garden of his disappointment. “We may need to come up with a plan b here man. I think the battery is dead and before you get all fired up let's come up with a solution.”
“Dead like the goldfish?” He asked.
“It's not dead.” He said as the tablet booted up.
“I know... but it may run out of power soon so just start thinking about what real book we will read when that happens.”
The tablet started up and we got to our E-book and the bedtime routine began. We were making good progress as I gave him the cliff notes version of some of the pages while I watched the battery indicator blink red. Time is of the... it turned off.
“Okay, the battery died. Let's find a real book to read.”
He tried to explain to me it wasn't dead and I fought back saying it was and he said it just needed to rest like the cats do and we went round and round until he demanded it wasn't dead and that all we had to do was turn it back on again.
Which he did. And it powered up. And he said, “See daddy. It's easy.” And he gave me that look again. For the second time this week.
Naturally it powered down soon there after but I calmly took it away before he saw that so he'd go to bed thinking he was right.
I did tell him though that he didn't need to use the stylus to push the power button because it is mechanical and not touch sensitive like the capacitive screen.
“So there.” It was my face said.
And we both won that one.