Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Art of Auto Interrogation

Extracting information from one's kids is a daunting process. It's never too early to start, though. While I confess to being the Grand Inquisitor at any opportunity, experience has shown that the inquiry process in a car, whether it's moving or not, is the most effective technique. Aside from letting them know that the questioning is just a natural process of growing up (or, at least growing up with you), it gives them the opportunity to:
1) Develop their own mental abilities, specifically the ability to think on one's feet..or (since you're in a car) on one's seat.
2) See their parents for the inquisitive paranoids that they are.
3) Introduce them to the art of conversational chicanery.

Thanks to Federal law, you can legally keep your subject tightly confined in a car seat. Come on, you know that the same sadistic guy who designed the straitjacket, designer jeans, thong underwear, and size "A" width shoes was in on infant car seats as well. How they got the Feds to sign off on this instrument of torture just goes to show you how strong the lobby group for the Sadists of America Practioners (SOAP) is. You can refine your inquiry technique, knowing your subject is not going anywhere.

Now, some kids will quickly realize that sleep is truly one of the best pleasures in life (and...It's cheap) That realization is important, as it not only acts as a deterrant against parental inquiries, but it works just as well when one is older and is, say, a college student. Sometimes the only protection against useless intake of information, such as Zeno's Paradox is the ability to quickly depart into the land of ZZZ's.

The truly gifted child will realize that the questioning will stop when the parental unit is not in the car. That kid's manual dexterity and mechanically inclined thought process will soon discover the power of that little button called the door lock. Just a touch of patience while the father leaves the car, then click! The Learning Experience continues as Junior can see the parent go through the adult version of a tantrum, namely a conniption.
"Hmmm, so that's how I'll look when I grow up!?!?", Junior is mulling.

Starting the questioning at an early age may not give you immediate auditory results. Remember, you are trying to establish a process and an expected daily event. Besides, at a very early age, your child has already figured out that an answer requires the use of understandable language; he/she will hold unto the safety of googoo's and gaagaa's as long as possible. You just have to admit a lost battle at this early age. It's the victory of the war against teenage secracy that you're after. So, keep your eye on the prize!
Success is not always measured in words. Appearances are not deceiving, so keep an eye out for thebefore
and theafter expressions. Questioning results should be self-evident. This is not cruelty!! Just think back on your own childhood. The only difference was that your parents may have been blowing cigarette smoke in your face along with their questions.

If you've really mastered the confined seating technique, you may be able to persuade your kid to stay in a car seat much longer than legally required. Keep in mind that you should let them make that ultimateseating choice. Having a figure of authority,other than yourself, around when the selection is made is always helpful, as it lends credence to your oh-so-over-the-top drumming inquiries.

As your child grows older, crankier, more attuned to your trickery, and plagued with the bombardment of the teenage years natural chemical and physical changes, keep in mind that the automobile does also serve as your sanctuary, your self-imposed time-out from the eternal search for good information about your child. I also find that cranking "Mustang Sally" to "11" on your car stereo, when your teen has turned the tables of Q & A torture on you, is an acceptable method of stemming the tide of their onslaught and attitude. Remember, you are the parent..they are the child. Keep the illusion of control going.

***Tomorrow*** Taking your child to college. How to use the auto interrogation technique on a semi-adult while driving 7 hours on the PA Tpke.

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