My dad had certain ways of saying things. If I wanted something as a kid, and I couldn’t have it and tried to appeal to his humane side, he’d say "tough bananas". Roughly translated: "because I said so". Despite setting myself the challenge with my own kids of being more
communicative and understanding
of their desires, interests and motivations, quite often I say things which sound like an eerie echo of "tough bananas".
You could ask me why (and I could choose to answer "because"), but you know how it goes: James will want to go to the shop and get Magic Cards to exchange with his friends, or Hannah will want to go and play Cave Golf. It could be Jonah angling to go to some horrendously expensive play park. The trouble with all of these is that they might not fit in with our actual plans for the day: Trying to conserve cash while preventing bickering.
If they fixate on one particular activity, I may try and engage with them:So what is it about handling live snakes that you enjoy?Because... it’s cool!Well, we can do something else that’s 'cool', because the live snake petting zoo is too far to drive.Well, can we go and see the snakes next week?But what is so cool about handling snakes? You’ve already done that.It’s just COOL!
Hang on a minute, I’m beginning to see a trend: They aren’t really engaging in mature negotiations - THEY are the ones saying "because". Ha! I win, right?
The problem with all of the books, websites, experts and so on (and, yes, I’m guilty of it as well) which suggest you need to develop lines of communication, or appeal to their personalities, is that kids defy logic.
As soon as I come up with what I think is a lucid, logical argument I’m sure will win the day, I’ll be met with what ifs, buts and aw, dads. My children are not going to turn around and say, "Well, father, I feel that exploring wildlife in a tactile environment is going to provoke what could be a gratifying interest in natural history, as well as stimulate a learning experience".
All of that is encompassed in "because
And, as much as I’d like to give a considered response, delving into the socio-economics of our family, and the impossibility that we can participate in an activity for reasons of time, inappropriateness or simply preferred tastes, instead, I’ll offer them my simple rejoinder: Tough bananas.Have you got any secret communication tips? Share them with us and you could win a R250 Kalahari.com voucher! Email us at email@example.com.