The Art of Debate

Lucy came home from school with two envelopes.  The first envelope contained a letter she had written trying to “persuade” us to grant a request.  The second envelope was for me to write my response, put it in the envelope without Lucy seeing the letter, seal it and send it back to school.  Below is the letter I received from Lucy:

Beloved mother and father,

I will make a deal with you guys.  Saige, the new American Girl doll is out and I want her badly. I have some reasons to get me her (not trying to be mean or anything).

First of all, it will get me away from the TV and into my imagination. I won’t use the TV for like two months. It will be like you can just throw away the TV and never get a new one!

Second, it will be totally cheap. I will pay for some of it with my bday money and chore money. And maybe max, if he wants to pitch in (which I highly doubt).

Finally, it will get me busier. Away from you guys. I won’t be bothering you forever. It will be like I am not there! So in conclusion, that’s why you should get Saige the new American girl doll.


Your beloved daughter Lucy

Throughout my childhood my mother used to say to me “if you can argue with me and win, you can argue with anybody”.  Battles were not easily won in my house and each opinion, request or idea needed to be well thought out and supported.  My mother was the emotional debater who frequently relied on “because I’m your mother”.  But my father could always be tricked using straight up logic and the Socratic method.  Unfortunately, I am more like my father.

I wrote my response and sent it back to school with Lucy.  A couple of days later Lucy opened her letter along with her classmates.  As a wave of gleeful exclamations washed across the classroom as requests were granted, Lucy opened and read the following letter.

My beloved daughter Lucy,

I appreciate the letter you sent regarding the purchase of the new American Girl doll Saige. Although I understand your claim that you will watch less TV and contribute funds towards the purchase, I don’t find this to be a reasonable argument.

First, you currently own two American Girl dolls and I have yet to observe a decrease in your television viewing.

Secondly, an American Girl doll costs approximately $125 and I know you don’t have those funds currently collected.

Third, I would rather you not be busy and “away from me” since you are never a bother and always a delight.

However, if you earn 7,500 chore points through I will gladly purchase the doll for you. I hope you find this to be an agreeable offer.

Love, Mommy

Lucy came home horrified.  As soon as the car door swung open she exclaimed “I WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN MY CLASS WHO DIDN’T GET HER REQUEST FILLED!! IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING.” To which I responded, “Well, make a better argument”.

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