Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

I broke the cardinal rule


No, not that one. And eww, not the one either – get your mind out of the gutter.

My dad always said the cardinal rule of a trial lawyer is never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to. Toddlers aren’t that different from a hostile witness on the stand. You need to know the answer to any question you ask – because you’ve carefully pre-screened the limited options you are presenting as viable answers to the asked question. (Objection! Counsel is leading her witness. Overruled. All is fair in love and parenting.) (Me? Carry my metaphor too far? Never! Now hush before I hold you in contempt.)

I broke the rule. I asked a toddler an open ended question. I asked Sabrina “What color do you want to paint your new room?” Rookie mistake. I know better. I should have picked out 3 or 4 paint swatches and said “Which color would you like for your new room?”

Now she points out different colors everywhere we go and says “Maybe we can paint my room that color, Mommy!” She tends to focus on the green family but has also thrown in pink, purple, orange, blue, and red depending on her mood. Now I have to undo what I did and find some paint colors that don’t make my eyes bleed and offer her a few choices. Let’s hope she quickly forgets this world of free will I let her glimpse.

*BTW that photo is of a cool painted light bulb that the site claims will make your room look like that when lit. Might be a neat night light. Click the photo to go to the site.

posted under parenting
4 Comments to

“I broke the cardinal rule”

  1. On September 17th, 2010 at 11:53 am Laura Says:

    I’m guilty of that as well. Our daughter’s room looks pretty cool, with just two shades of pink. One side has thick stripes of the two and two solid walls in one color and the remaining wall in the other pink but most of it is taken up the the white closet doors. She picked it and she loves it! So, yes….she can have more than one color.

  2. On September 20th, 2010 at 7:24 am Laurie Mitchell Says:

    When my son was in third grade we were redoing his room and he told me he wanted one blue wall, one black wall, one yellow wall and one white wall. He wanted to show the world that he is a fan of all things Steeler and all things Michigan. SOOOOOO…I compromised and let him paint it whatever yellow he wanted. He actually took his Steelers jersey to Home Depot and told the guy he wanted the yellow on that jersey! Literally the brightest yellow ever! But will all of the Steelers and Pens and Michigan posters on the wall it actually turned out pretty good!! 🙂

  3. On September 20th, 2010 at 1:04 pm Sonia in MO Says:

    After 5 years of her room being a pretty nursery yellow, we started clearing out the toddler bed and furniture, and I’m buying her a twin bed and new linens and giving Hannah a “big girl room.” I asked her – using the cardinal rule of limited choices – would you like your room painted pink or purple? Her answer – Red. So I said – would you like it painted purple or light green? Red. I took her to Target to see pretty pastel girly-girl spreads. Nope. Red. Sometimes at this age the cardinal rule is a moot point…lol…

  4. On September 27th, 2010 at 8:49 am burghbaby Says:

    I have a bathroom painted the exact color of Care Bear blood for that exact reason. WHOOPS.