The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


July 26, 2013

How to properly argue with a toddler


That distinction likely goes to my son, who sets much of the daily schedule around the house.

My daughter doesn’t only think she rules the roost, she believes that she’s miraculously become a genius.

While swinging on our porch this week, I was in the middle of reading one of my favorite books, “The Cat in the Hat.” She sat, listening to the poetic rhymes of Dr. Seuss, until we got to the part about “how that bump made us jump.”

On the page, in big bold letters, is the word, “Bump!”

Since we’ve been working with letters for awhile, she stopped me after I read the page, and proceeded to spell out bump! — B-U-M-P-I.

I applauded her effort, but she technically wasn’t right.

“That’s actually an exclamation point on the end, not an ‘I”’ I said.

You know that look someone gives you when they believe you’ve said something really stupid? Magnify that by 10, and it’s what was on my daughter’s face.

“It’s an ‘I,’” she said, as confident as Michael Jordan hitting a game-winning jump shot.

I proceeded to explain that it was an upside-down lowercase “I,” but in reality, it was punctuation. Before I could explain punctuation, she dismissed my retort.

“It’s an ‘I,’” she said, not backing down.

A college degree in journalism meant nothing to her. In her mind, it was an “I.”

But I’m stubborn. I kept hammering home my explanation and she stayed staunch in her argument. Even though she was wrong, I admired her determination.

However, no matter how well I spelled out my argument, there was no changing her mind. I figure if I keep mentioning punctuation, it will eventually sink in.

And soon, I’ll have these same discussions with my son. Unfortunately at that point, I will likely be outnumbered.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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