Fiona was throwing a hard plastic ball at the wall. I stopped her and told her if she did it again I would take the ball. She, being at that testing age, threw it again.
Follow through is important. I put the ball up.
She asked a few minutes later if she could have it back, “Mama, I have my ball back, please?”
I smile because she’s remembering to ask and use her polite words, “Are you going to throw it at the wall again?”
She looks at me seriously and nods, “Yep!”
“Hmmm…” I struggle not to laugh, “Then, no, you can’t have it back. That ball is not for throwing.”
She grumps about this for a moment then asks again, “Pleeeaase, can I have my ball?”
“Are you going to throw it at the wall?” I ask again.
“Yes.” She replies, definitively and a little sadly.
I laugh, because I’m amazed that she hasn’t just agreed yet. “Well, that ball isn’t for throwing. So if you’re going to throw it at the wall, I can’t give it back. ”
“Oh.” She says, and pauses for just a second. “Mama, I have my ball, please?”
“Are you going to throw it at the wall?” I patiently repeat, hoping the lesson will stick soon.
“Just a little.” She says. “I throw it at the wall one time.”
“Nope.” I say. “If you want the ball you have to throw it at nothing. Zero throws.”
“I could throw it at the door!” She announces optimistically.
“No. That ball is not for throwing. No throwing. Zero throwing.” I try to put this in her language.
“I could bounce it at the wall.” She suggests.
“No.” I’m aware that an attempted bounce would likely translate right into a direct throw.
“I could roll it?” She asks.
“N-Yes.” I finally agree. “If you sit on the floor, you could roll the ball at the wall. Would you like your ball back?”
“Yes.” She says with conviction.
“Alright. Are you going to throw it?” I ask with the ball in my hand to give to her.
“Yes!” She replies firmly.
“No.” I say holding tight to the ball. “The answer is no! No throwing the ball!”
I ask again, shaking my head slowly at her. “Are you going to throw the ball?”
“Y-” She starts and then shakes her head with me, “No. I roll it.”
I hand her the ball and she does, surprisingly, refrain from throwing it.
I’m not sure if she’s very young, or uncommonly honest. Either way, I find her blatant, self-defeating honesty reassuring and wonderful. She is, at her core, a great person. She doesn’t have a malicious, self-serving nature and, I think, she regards her world as reasonable and fair.
Either that, or she hasn’t figured out the art of lying yet.