#899: Can’t fool ’em–Portions, fractions, and wholes

You know that moment when a kid figures out one of the parents’ tricks, and you don’t know whether to be  bothered or proud? Here’s another instance of parents trying to get one past their kids, and getting found out.


We’ve all been fighting our way through colds this past week. Though the kids take a daily multi-vitamin, this is the only time that we give them extra Vitamin C, in the form of chewable tablets. They hadn’t had a Vitamin C in a long time, and I thought they’d forgotten about it. You see, the problem is that the Boy loves vitamins, which, I believe, he thinks of as candy. So it’s not unusual for him to ask for more than his daily requirement, or to fib and say that he hasn’t had his vitamin for the day (when he clearly has), or even to ask for his sister’s share. Lately, he’s been especially conscious of who gets how much, and wants everyone’s share to be equal, whenever possible.

“How come you get a whole pill and I don’t?” he’ll ask.

“Because we’re adults and our bodies are bigger, so we need more.”

“Oh. When can I get as much as you?”

“One day. Soon.”

“When? At what age?”

“I don’t know. Whatever it says on the packaging.”

“Yeah, but when is that? In how many years?”

(Sigh.) “Oh look, would you like pancakes for breakfast this morning?”



But you can only distract him for so long, before he gets back on track, and figures things out. Last week, for example, he figured out something important. To be proactive and stop the questions about portions and shares, we had decided to give him two quarters of a tablet, and the Girl one half (their allowed dosage), but in two “different” quantities. We figured that if he thought he was getting more than his sister, he would be happy and not even start griping. So our conversation went something like this:


“Oh look, you’re getting so much more Vitamin C than your sister! That’s because you’ve been such a good boy! Hasn’t he been a good boy, C.? (wink, wink).”

“Oh yes, Mama,” the Girl plays along. “Poor me. I only get one half. You get two quarters.” And she winks back at me over his head.

But then, a few brief seconds later, our bubble is burst when we hear this:

“Waaaait a minute! Two quarters is the same as one half! And two halves make one whole. I’m still getting the same amount as C is getting, and you’re still getting more than us!”


D’oh. Cover blown.


I don’t know if we should be disappointed that we can no longer fool him, or proud that he has figured out our deception. More the latter. Yeah, the latter. Even if we’ve lost that secret weapon, I’m happy for him.