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So, I had a conversation with my five-year-old about child labor laws on the drive to school last week. We discussed them again briefly at breakfast this morning.

He already complains about going to school. It isn’t a consistent complaint, and he loves it once he arrives, but he hates having to get dressed and get out the door on a schedule. On one hand, I understand, and that’s why I work from home. On the other hand, I did attend school and then report to a 9-to-5 job for many years before I had the privilege of sitting around all morning in my pjs, drinking coffee and repeatedly calling the Public Works department about that nice big gap they’ve left between the curb they recently installed in front of my house and the street.

Anyway, last week – the FIRST WEEK OF THE SCHOOL YEAR – he was complaining, and I had just had enough. I couldn’t face it anymore, or the thought of having to deal with it every day for, literally, months. But yelling, cajoling, reasoning, all of these things have not worked. So I decided to try reality, or possibly fear, and I started talking about how much better school was than working in a factory or on a farm all day. He wanted details: what kinds of work does one do on a farm or in a factory? How early does one have to get up? And then when he started asking what could be bad about working in a factory, I thought, maybe this conversation isn’t quite appropriate, and I reined it in. Of course, I didn’t have much more to say anyway because I don’t actually know all that much about child labor laws. I know just enough, it turns out, to get my kid to stop whining about going to school.

I wonder what other topics I should study up on for the future. It might be helpful to tell them about skin diseases they could possibly get from not bathing, or the rickets they might get from eating only bread and yogurt for extended periods of time. And what about the brain damage they could possibly (definitely?) sustain from constantly headbutting each other?

The fact is, with certain issues, I’m at a loss. They will not be talked out of their ways, which is not surprising because one hallmark of my entire family is a completely irritating, immovable level of stubbornness. We aren’t stubborn about everything, but when we pick our issues, man, do we hold onto them. With kids as little as mine, the only issues you can really have revolve around eating, bathing, sleeping, and school. Luckily, at least they are willing to sleep. If I have to have only one thing, I guess I’m glad that’s it.