Monday, March 8, 2010

Those Three Little Words

I want to talk about those three words, those three little words that are so difficult for adults to say, but seemingly simple for kids. What are the three words? I don't know. To avoid confusion, those are the words, I DON'T KNOW, not that I don't actually know. Well, you get the point.

Anyway, my son uses those words on a regular basis:

What did you do?
I don't know!

I've noticed adults don't like to say them. We probably have our reasons, which I will not attempt to expound on. However, there are three common diversion tactics to use rather than admit you don't know.

First, the subject change:
So what should we do about it?
Honey, I just have to mention how beautiful you look tonight.

Tactic number two, the question rebuff:
What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

And the third diversion tactic is intellectual pontification:
All right. Where is the poison?
But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison in his own goblet or his enemy's? Now a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he is given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known that I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me...

I am aware that not everyone struggles with the words, "I don't know." The struggle is reserved for men and stubborn women, which I figure qualifies at least 85% of us out there.

I'm not calling for change or anything. So why am I writing this? I don't...errr... I mean, what's it to ya?! (Phew. Glad I cleverly employed tactic number two there.)


  1. Haha! Another tactic is procrastination. My personal favorite.

  2. I just fake like I got a text from a friend who got in a car wreck. :-)

  3. Nice!!! It is painful for me to say those words. I have an opinion on everything . . . so if I say them then I really don't know ;)

    Great post.

  4. One more that I employ often especially when I don't know how to answer my children is...'what do you think?' It makes you seem interested in others and by not answering I often find that I am precieved as being more intelligent rather than less.

  5. Graham, after your comment I wondered if your "motorcycle accident" was just another excuse to keep from admitting you don't know. But I guess I have seen the scars...

  6. the best examples EVER. ;) And will I ever be as cool as Debbie? I don't know...