Thursday, May 7, 2009

Define Your Terms

(Originally posted at Rational Jenn)

Anyone who has ever participated in a philosophical or political debate or discussion understands that you won't get very far in explaining yourself if you and your discussion-buddy are defining your terms differently. Even the slightest difference can lead to fruitless misunderstanding. Always best to make sure everyone starts off on the same page.

After this amusing exchange with my daughter this morning, I've realized just how important defining your terms is outside of formal debate:

Me, making coffee in the kitchen: "Morgan, I noticed you didn't put on the underpants I laid out for you upstairs. Go put them on." (I put them in the hallway outside the bathroom where she was brushing her teeth and asked her several times to put them on before she came downstairs.)

She begins to wander aimlessly toward the family room.

Me: "Morgan, go upstairs. Your underwear is in the hallway by the bathroom."

She makes it upstairs and then calls down a few seconds later: "Where? Where? I don't see it!"

Me: "In the hallway by the bathroom!"

She, whining: "I can't find it!"

Me, feeling irritated: "In the HALLWAY by the BATHROOM!"

She: "What's a hallway?"

Alrighty then. So we all began our day with a little definition about the Parts of a House.

I really REALLY need to remember this the next time we're having one of those repetitive irritating discussions (predicting half a dozen more by the end of this day alone). Maybe I can save us all a little bit of frustration by saying something like "Are you confused about what I'm asking?" or "Is there something I'm asking you that you don't know how to do?" Hmmm....yes. Those might be useful parenting tools right there.

As an aside--it absolutely floors me that this child can read pretty well and count to 100 and use words like evidently correctly--and still didn't know what a hallway was. Funny how all that larnin' works, huh?

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