Friday, December 11, 2009

A Fallacious Six-year Old

Today I went to the pharmacy to have some new prescriptions filled. While waiting, I watched a girl, about six-years old, take newly bought gloves from her sister, about eight-years old. The older sister didn't want to give the gloves to her younger sister saying, "I don't want you to open them."

The six-year old replied, "I'm not going to open them." She then moved to a position behind the older sister's chair and "opened" the gloves: removing the sales tag and putting them on her hands. She then made the argument that she needed to put them on because "My hands are cold outside."

I muttered, "You aren't outside," under my breath.

The incident gnawed at me the entire time I was in line. I think the main reason was because both parents did nothing about their younger child lying to the older sister. All they seemed to do is treat the older girl as being selfish. (Granted, in a way she may have been.)

On my way out of the pharmacy I made a point to stop and speak to the younger girl. Something in me just couldn't stand to leave without saying something. I approached the girls sitting next to their mother and said, "Excuse me, but I feel something needs to be said." I then pointed to the six-year old girl, telling her, "Honey, I think you need to apologize to your sister for lying to her about the gloves and making a fallacious argument to justify it."

The three of them sat there looking back at me with a look as if to say, "Why are you talking to us?" I left immediately, not in any mood to hear a rebuttal from the mother, which I think would have been something akin to "Mind your own business." Honestly, looking back, the only things I would have done differently would have been to say something sooner and thought of a different word than "fallacious."

I don't have any children of my own, and I understand the generally offensive nature of having strangers try to discipline one's children from the sideline. I also realize this kind of thing is typical of children and siblings at their ages. At the same time, this exchange between sisters and their parents struck something in me. Perhaps it is the nature of it was all too much an example of what I see in the greater world and politics in general: lying about what one is going to do and then making fallacious arguments to justify one's actions after the fact. Also--if I may put forward a bit of parenting philosophy--if a child is old enough to articulate an argument, they are old enough to be corrected.

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