Manipulating my 2.5 year old daughter is a piece of cake. That is because, and I am saying this with all due humility, I am the Jedi Master of the house. She is merely an apprentice.
I can get her to eat, sleep, pick stuff up, and not paint the dog with a Sharpie by using simple manipulation techniques.
I am in her head. I am Yoda.
Her pitiful attempts to out-manipulate me are cute, but laughable. She tries to argue that she isn’t sleepy, that she isn’t hungry, that we should take her out for ice cream; but her powers are undeveloped, her approach too tentative. Against my powers of persuasion she is helpless.
But The Force is strong with this one, so I must be careful. I have noticed her studying my methods. I have caught her trying to use my own arguments against me.
She is learning.
The other day I dropped her off at day care. As I filled out some paperwork, she looked up at me with perfectly sad eyes and a well-practiced, wistful voice and said, “No leave me, Daddy.”
The youngling had struck a mighty and unexpected blow, and this time she drew blood.
I struggled to maintain my composure. A professional like me should never show emotion at a time like that. But the swiftness of the parry had thrown me. My lower lip quivered, but just barely and only for a second.
But she noticed.
Today, as my wife was about to drive her to an undisclosed (because I don’t know where it is) location for “play time”, my daughter looked at me with the same eyes and voice and said, “You go too, Daddy. Come with me.”
“Your powers are weak, old man.”
(She didn’t say the last part, but I know she was thinking it.)
I realized that the apprentice was learning her craft quickly, and all too well. I knew that I had to muster all the power of The Force to keep her at bay.
So with a strong voice and unquivering lip I looked her right in the eye and said, “Daddy has to go to work.”
With that I turned and walked away.
I still had it! I had won the contest. I was still the Jedi Master.
As I passed by the driver’s window, my wife caught my eye. There is something unspoken that happens between a husband and wife. An understanding. A lifetime of shared experiences that allows them to communicate without saying a word. Intuitively she knew that a great struggle had just taken place, and she knew it had shaken me. And as only a loving and wise companion can do, she looked up at me and said:
“Just wait ’til she’s sixteen.”