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The Devil’s Advocate

Lainey disagrees for kicks.

My daughter Lainey is five years old and I love her. She asked me for something the other day and an argument began.

“Lainey," I explained, “you can’t cry every time I tell you no. Do you cry when your teacher says no?”

Lainey kept crying.

“Lainey, listen,” I persisted. “If you ask your teacher to go to the bathroom and she says no, do you cry?”

“Mrs. Hannigan always lets us go to the bathroom,” Lainey replied.

“Ok,” I sighed. “If you ask to sharpen a pencil and she says no, do you cry?”

“Mrs. Hannigan always has a sharpened pencil I can use. There’s a whole cup full of them at her desk.”

“She never runs out?” I asked.

“Nope,” Lainey said. “She has two pencils for each kid and she sharpens them before school so they are ready.”

“Ok, great,” I sighed. “So your teacher never tells you 'no' for anything?”

Lainey shook her head.

“You’re not using very good examples,” my wife informed me.

“What am I supposed to say?” I vented. “I’m sick of the kid crying all the time!”

My wife shrugged and giggled at my frustration.

“Dad?” Lainey asked. “Can we please have Chinese for dinner?”

“No, I said. Remember?” I yelled. “You just asked me that!”

“Pretty please?” Lainey cooed.

“No!” I repeated.

“Mom,” Lainey said, “can we have Chinese for dinner?”

“Lainey,” my wife replied. “Your dad said no already.”

“I’m never going to a restaurant ever again!” Lainey wailed.

Back to square one. These arguments have a circular pattern, which is slowly driving me insane.

I almost said, "Screw it. Let’s do Chinese." But I held my ground. The kid ate spaghetti that night at home and loved it.

Days later I offered a restaurant outing and Lainey refused, saying we should save money instead. Lainey doesn’t care what she eats, and those phony tears don’t fool anyone—she just likes to argue.

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