I’m Only Gonna Say This Once!
My girlfriend’s 6-year-old grandson is a somewhat hyper and wild little kid, always getting in trouble and pushing the adults to the limits of their tolerance. Recently he was pestering me mercilessly, carrying on and being bad. I turned to him in the sternest adult admonishing voice I could muster, and I said with my finger pointing, “Look, I’m only gonna say this once!” His frozen gaze beseeched me to continue. “Just once,” I repeated. “I am only going to say it ONCE!” There was an awkward moment of silence, and suddenly he replied, “Well, say it!” At that moment I realized I actually had nothing at all to say, no point to make, nothing in reserve, just my empty rhetorical threat. I said, “I’ll say it when I’m ready, because it’s only gonna be one time!” He looked at me pleadingly and said, “Just whisper it in my ear.” As if this was a secret between him and me, to the exclusion of everyone else around, most notably his parents. I held my ground, reminding myself there was nothing to say. But this is the great thing about dealing with a 6-year-old: he has no filter, everything is in black and white, and his brain is not developed to the point where logic could tell him that I was bluffing. The best part of this is that it’s been several weeks since this event and I have used the same line at least a dozen times. Every time he’s acting maniacal and I warn, “I’m only gonna say it once,” he gets more frustrated and he demands, “JUST SAY IT ALREADY!” He still hasn’t caught on. And I’m going to milk this until one day the jig is up, when he realizes it’s all been a bluff. And after that the next time he misbehaves I’ll just say to him, “Do I have to say it again????”