The Kathleen Dialectic

Riding home from taekwando today Kathleen and I got into an argument about the value of reading. I explained that if she really wanted to appreciate Harry Potter she needed to read the books. She disagreed, saying that the movies were better than the books. I replied that the book is always better than the movie.

“State your case!” She yelled from the back seat.

I pointed out that you could watch the movies in just a few hours while it would take weeks to read the books. Thus, I argued, the books must have more content than the movies.

Kathleen responded that my conclusion was not correct, because reading takes more time to cover the same amount of content. “Because you have to say the words.”

I responded that when you get good at reading, you don’t have to say the words anymore. And you have your imagination to fill in.

Kathleen was having none of this. “You don’t have to say the words OUT LOUD anymore, but you do have to say them in your head,” she concluded.

Then, before I could say anything else, she yells: “BOOM! You have been defeated!”

She is clearly going to be a philosopher. She is lacking the rigor yet, but she has the attitude down.

Negotiating Crazy

Kathleen is rummaging through our hats, looking for something to wear to “crazy hat night” at vacation bible school.

Kathleen: “Dad, I don’t think this hat is ours.” She tosses out a grey newsboy cap.

Me: “That is ours. I used to wear it in high school and college.”

Kathleen: “You wore this? Like in public? I think it is a crazy hat. I’m going to wear it tonight.”

Me: “Your mother used to say I looked very cute in that hat. It is NOT a crazy hat.”

Kathleen, putting the hat on her head: “Hey, you say tomato, I say potahto.”

Me: “That’s not even how that goes. Let’s call the whole thing off.”

Kathleen: “Call what off?”

Me: “Never mind. You can wear the hat.”


Kathleen informed me later that she assumed that the hat was not ours because it looked like “something grandpa must have left at our house.”

Breaking the Law!

Lucy and I went to the store today. When we got back to the car I started up the air conditioning. Lucy climbed in the back seat while I put the groceries in the trunk. When I got into the driver seat, Lucy clambered up into the front passenger seat.

Lucy: “Can I ride up here on the way home?”

Me: “Well, you’re really not supposed to. And if mommy found out I would get in trouble.”

Lucy: “So?”

Me: “Well, when we get home you would tell mommy.”

Lucy: “True.”

Me: “Then get in the back seat.”

Lucy: “Wait! I won’t tell mommy!”

Me: “Look me in the eye.”

Lucy stares over, exerting maximum effort to look serious.

Me: “You know you like telling people about all your adventures. Would you really not tell mom?”

Lucy shakes her head, maintaining her serious face.

Me, in my most skeptical voice: “And you wouldn’t tell Kathleen?”

Again Lucy shakes her head.

Me: “Ok. Let’s go.”

Lucy: “REALLY?!?!”

Me: “Get your seat belt on!”

Lucy pauses. “WAIT!” She hops up and jumps to her place in the back seat.

Me: “What happened?”

Lucy: “I’m really not good at keeping secrets.”

Me: “Mmm Hmmm.”

Lucy: “Dad?”

Me: “Yes.”

Lucy: “Can I tell mom and Kathleen about what we almost did?”

Me: “Sure Lucy.”

The Lucy Show

Lucy returned from the bathroom during dinner with a serious expression on her face. “Do we live in a story?”

Me: “Yes. And you are the main character. When you went to the bathroom, we all disappeared until you came back.”

Kathleen: “Dad! Lucy don’t listen to Dad.”

Me: “If I were the author that is exactly what I would write Kathleen saying.”

Kathleen: “Lucy, he is lying.”

Lucy pauses, then looks upward, does a small wave in the direction of the ceiling.


This weekend, Lucy heard that her cousin Maggie is a vegetarian. This became a topic of conversation on the drive to gymnastics today.

Lucy: “How did you know Maggie was a vegetarian?”

Me: “She told us.”

Lucy: “So she doesn’t eat bacon or sausage?”

Me: “Nope.”

Lucy: “And she can’t eat sweets?”

Me: “Well, most sweets are not made with meat. She can eat candy and cake.”

[Silence as Lucy contemplates this]

Lucy: “I want to become one …”

Me: “A vegetarian?!?!?!”

Lucy: “No! You didn’t let me finish. I want to become one of the people that doesn’t eat vegetables. Except maybe carrots.”

Your Voice Nourishes Me

Kathleen and Lucy are watching “Bunk’d” a Disney show set at a camp. Its aimed at kids, but sometimes jokes require some advanced knowledge. In this episode a sheep is giving birth. After the lamb emerges, one of the girls in the show says: “Oh, and look, it comes with a leash.” At that point I overhear the following conversation.

Lucy: “What is the leash?”

Kathleen: “Oh, they are talking about the vocal cord. It goes from the mommy to the baby and gives the baby food. It goes in where your belly button is. On some animals, it hangs around for a while before falling off.”

Such a fascinating mixture of knowledge and confusion.