My granddaughter, Calliope, age 5, has a motor with only one speed: full. She doesn’t walk, she runs; and she talks without ceasing, using words in ways only a poet could imagine. And while she’s been reading me stories for years, it turns out she actually can’t read.
Instead, she reprises what’s been read to her pretty much verbatim – but with a lot more flair.
Apparently it’s a concern, her difficulty translating visual letters into audible sounds – and the traditional antidote is more practice, as if doing it over and over will lead to a different result.
“What they don’t understand,” her mother, Gayley, said, “is that she’s a classic WIIFMe kid.”
“WIIFMe – ‘What’s in it for me?’ You don’t tell Callie what to do; you negotiate.”
I thought of long ago when Gayley was not following orders, and I lost it. “Haven’t you figured out yet,” she said, “that yelling doesn’t work with me?”
Her sister, Annie, took a different approach, announcing at breakfast one morning that she wasn’t going to speak to me again. And for several weeks she’d just look at me with her big blue eyes and say nothing.
It’s disconcerting, this business of children asserting they’re not objects to be fashioned by our will, but people with wills of their own. Oh, I still yelled and still got the silent treatment, as together we negotiated our joint passage through life.
Wiifme. Even Callie knows the Mexicans aren't going to pay for our wall.