Monday, November 15, 2010

Taking the biscuit

'Should we have a biscuit?' Dylan asked, this evening after dinner. 

'All right,' I agreed, 'But just one... so long as you clean your teeth afterwards.' 

'Of course,' he replied, taking two from the tin. 'One's for you,' he grinned... 'while we watch the video.' 

'I thought you were going to bed?' 

'Not till eight,' he pleaded... 'Come on Dad, you know you want to.'

And so I'm typing this post on the laptop as we watch the Big Rock Candy Mountains (for the tenth time). I'm also smiling, because as we left the kitchen Dylan made what might be his first step to a future career.

'Have you been in the sweetie tin?' Jane asked, blocking his exit.

'No,' he replied, holding the biscuits behind his back. 'Just going to watch a DVD with Dad ... '

And as he squeezed past her, he moved the biscuits carefully to his side, keeping them out of sight. By the time I joined him in the lounge he'd eaten one chocolate chip cookie and was looking longingly at the other. Do you want your biscuit Dad? he asked, knowing full well what the answer would be. 

I'm a soft touch and he knows it. After a dull day at the office there is no one who makes me happier and he knows that too. Had I told him to put the biscuits back he'd have done so, and I doubt he'd have whinged if I'd said it was bedtime. That's because he's learned outright defiance doesn't work half as effectively as being my buddy and cuddling up on the sofa.

He's always been cute, but his little deception tonight was something different. He knows full well there is no substantial difference between biscuits and sweets as an evening snack - and by hiding them behind his back he proved it. Whilst he didn't exactly lie to Jane, he deceived her by omission. 

That's quite subtle for a child of six, I thought - a sign of intelligence I'm sure (must get it from me) - but it could lead to trouble in future. Mmmm...

Perhaps I should talk to him; explain how deceptions lead to mistrust; show the distinction between 'acts and omissions' to be morally spurious... 

On the other hand, the Big Rock Candy Mountains is a great video. 

And on reflection, I should perhaps encourage it - in moderation of course. After all, a cute manner and a little deception bodes well for a successful career... politics! 

And that really would take the biscuit.


  1. Mark, how could you go to your grave knowing that you had deliberately raised a politician!

  2. LOL at Fly's comment. Says it all. :-)

  3. Hmm. Your 6 year old has been talking to my 3 year old, I swear... ;-)

  4. My mum used to let my brother and I throw eggs at the patio when we wanted to vent some rage. She would join in, and it wasn't exactly an accident when a few flew into the grumpy neighbour's garden. Standing on the doorstep facing the inquisition, my mum would say something along the lines of, 'Yes, now you mention it, I did see something fly over the wall.' She never lied and set a great example...

  5. That deception leads to mistrust is precisely why politicians, and perhaps government generally, tend to be mistrusted at best or despised at worst.

    But the ability to listen to exactly what has been said, what has not been said, and the qualifying adjectives and adverbs that have been applied, together with the ability to analyse the differences in meaning that these imply, is a great skill.

    "We will never transfer our gold reserves to Brussels" No indeed, there is no secure storage there.

    "We sold our gold (at rock-bottom prices) on the technical advice of the Treasury" Yep, they told us *how* to do it, and we're not saying whether or not they advised us not to.

    Personally I think that this skill is best applied in business, but then I mistrust government and politicians.

  6. That is such a brilliant story. Must ask you, Mark, about how you feel about writing about children/photos/putting them on your blog. I'm not critical in the slightest. (Far from it and this is such a great story :)) I think maybe I'm too mistrustful of the internet.

    I like what you are saying here because it shows how brilliantly children deal with us adults.