With my first generation of children a couple of decades ago, I found that my primary position on 'truth' was compromised. I adopted a new position; 'sitting on the fence.' Then, a youthful and ignorant parent, I worked on the sound theory, that if I offered two opposing options, that my child would have to work it out their own way. Of course I stacked the odds in my favor on each and every occasion; 'some people think it's o.k. to eat animals and earn their living that way, other people prefer to think of animals as friends, now would you like Whiskers fried or roasted for Sunday lunch?' Now that's what I call value free parenting.
These days, when the audience is more literal and is beginning to acquire a sense of humor, I find that my fence is getting a bit rickety, but that happens with age. With this generation's black and white world, my fence is being shaken. I am in peril of a tumble.
“I am special?” he asks before the sun has risen. I blink behind my bifocals. I am not a morning person. When he first wakes up, he has more words available to him than later in the day, as he uses them all up. He seems to be operating on a quota system.
“Of course, every child is special. Indeed every person is special now I come to think of it.” I need my brain to wake up and connect with my mouth.
“No, no, no. Me. Me. Me. Am I the special one?” Oh dear! Who has being saying what to him? Don't mess it up! Encourage and positively reinforce every utterance. If only I could get him to start at the beginning, to fill me in on all the prior thoughts leading up to this question.
“Who told you that you were special dear?”
“No, no, no. Not 'deer,' 'boy!' Am I a special boy?” Oh dear! I fell right into that one. Wake up! Starting firing on all cylinders! Have my neurons abandoned me?
“Who told you that you were a special boy?” Why am I a night owl? [translation = barmy old bat]
“I don know. I mean, I mean, I mean, I cant remember who is saying dat.” I think. Hurry, hurry, before he loses interest. I need to metamorphose into an early bird. [translation = leopards and spots] I think hard. Why didn't I train to be a speech pathologist when I was 18? Can I swap [translation = trade] my paper qualifications in 'uselessness' for a practical skill set?
I have no back-ground information, no pointers or clues. I don't want to provoke a meltdown by trying to extract chapter and verse from him, when he just wants an answer. I think of an answer. Not an answer to him, but an answer for him to use.
“The next time someone says that to you, can you try and do your 'good answering' for me?”
“Er, maybe.” Perfect! Never agree to anything initially, without due consideration of any and all consequences. A sound response that will stand him in good stead, both now and in the future.
“Can you try and look at the person, their face, shoulder perhaps, and use your kind voice to say, “And you're special too!”
Well it's not a lie. [translation = ain't that the truth]
verb [I] FORMAL
to avoid telling the truth or saying exactly what you think.