September 4, 2002 - Wednesday
Right after I picked Harry up from preschool, I had this feeling that we were playing some kind of game of chess and the feeling lasted most of the afternoon. It started in the car as we were driving to pick up Jeremy. Harry was eating his afternoon snack in the back seat as has become the routine and in what seemed like a very good mood. I offered him the water bottle, as I sometimes do, and he took it, but then quickly said he did not want it. OK, I said, and reached back for the bottle. Then almost immediately, Harry changed his mind and said he did want a drink. Once more, I picked up the bottle and reached with it into the back seat.
Harry took the bottle again, but it wasn't more than a few seconds that he said, with a little grin on his face, that he "didn't want a drink." I had thought on the first time around that he was playing games, but now it was pretty clear. I reached back and grabbed the water bottle.
"I do want a drink."
I did not respond this time.
"I do want a drink"
"That's not being nice, Harry. You can't say things you don't mean."
"I don't like that." That's something Harry's been saying a lot.
We argue a bit back and forth, he saying he didn't like it and me trying to explain that lying is nasty behavior.
"I don't like it when you do that."
With that I realized a different strategy. "I don't like it when I do that either, but I'm doing it because you're being nasty."
"I don't like that."
"All you have to do for me not to do it is to stop being nasty."
I could see Harry's mind at work. Not immediately, but pretty quickly, Harry started turning on the charm and being on his best behavior. We went through much the same routine another couple of times during the afternoon, with Harry waffling on various similarly unimportant issues, still pushing a little to test the response, and me taking much the same basic approach. By the end of the day, I think he was catching on.