Yesterday Elli was watching her new video. Before she started it I told her that dinner was going to happen soon and the video would have to be paused in the middle. She bought 2 Barbie videos from HMV with her own money, which unfortunately means I can't really intervene and try to head off the pink, princessy, fairy madness. Wendy and I swore our daughter was not going to dress in pink and own the entire Barbie product line but we are failing badly. The video was about halfway done when I finished making dinner so I called her to come to dinner and of course she responds "Daddy, I think my tummy is full. I don't need dinner."
Hold on, one sec. Let me haul out my wallet and check the birthdate on my driver's licence. Upon closer inspection, it does not read Dec 20th, 2010, so in fact I was not born yesterday. Get away from the screen and come eat your dinner! Elli sat down at her supper, ate precisely one spoonful of food and announced "Daddy, I am full now. I am going to go watch the rest of my video." Look kid, don't force me to pull out my wallet and check my birthdate again. I start out telling her to eat till she is full, but it quickly becomes obvious that this is a failing strategy. After every single tiny bite she informs me that she is full and I have to order her to continue to eat again. I settled on the 10 minute plan instead: I told Elli she must stay at the table for 10 minutes and I don't care if she eats at all. She took great pains to inform me a few times that 10 minutes was over, but I checked my watch and gave her the remaining time. Finally she decided that since it wasn't an opinion that would decide when she got to leave but instead a measureable fact she dove into her dinner and shovelled food down her gullet as fast as possible. Once she was done eating she sat in her chair, twitching and bouncing, constantly in motion, every few seconds asking if it was time to go back to her video now. I was tempted to ask for a blood sample to test for illicit drugs but instead just took a minute to watch the dance of desperation while the last of the 10 minutes ticked away. Finally time was up and I went and restarted her video.
I can't help but wonder just what her mindset is. Does she really believe herself that she is full, despite the clear fact that she was extremely hungry? Is she purely trying to fool me or is her desire for Barbie the fairy princess so great and so overwhelming that she truly believes what she says? I know that I certainly forget to eat when I get really involved in a project and it isn't that I actively suppress my hunger, I just don't know that it is there. I have sufficient self awareness these days that when offered food I take it because I know I will work better once I am fed but she clearly doesn't have that. Adults do this same thing as self-delusion is certainly not limited to people who are very small. Adult self delusions tend to be a little less obvious, but only a little.
"Oh, I win money at slot machines at the casinos. I have a system."
"I am definitely a better than average driver."
I think the primary difference between the adult delusions and the child delusions is that children are very much willing to let go of their delusions and be proved wrong. Adults will go far out of their way to maintain their long held beliefs while children live more in the moment and will trade in their convictions for a lollipop generally speaking. I figure it is useful to let Elli experience these moments of desperate need vs. Stern Father because that conflict of want vs. necessity is a critical one to be able to manage in life.