I have mentioned deflection several times to you, and modeled some of it in my previous posts. Now it is time to explain this important methodology. This tactic is a basic distraction move that allows you to steer your child away from a potentially harmful subject. After all, children want you to deflect not inform. Depending on a child’s age, intelligence and ability to focus (oh, we lucky ADD parents!) this can be a quick and easy fix. A dangerous question posed by the child can easily be counteracted with a simple ploy that reroutes their attention to something more appropriate. Your success in this area rests on how genuine your interest in the distracting subject appears, and the amount of titillating information you can sound off about after the initial digression. Examples are provided below on how to react after such questions, based on your location.
- At home: you could ask in an urgent voice “did something just fly by the window?” followed by a rush to said pane, creating a teachable moment about regional birds. It does not matter if there is a bird anywhere in sight. It’s called having an imagination! Wax poetic about pink flamingoes (who cares?) just get them off the topic of Uncle Tony’s divorce and subsequent sightings with an exotic dancer! For Christ’s sake, where do they get their intel?!?!
- In the car: you can excitedly point out something that might interest your child (a car, a fire station, a flower in bloom – the possibilities are endless!) and then start yammering on and on about them. Who knows? You may plant a seed for a future interest that will allow you to brag about how your kid is a botanist at the Smithsonian who on weekends rescues cats as a volunteer fireman. How do you think the Chinese produce so many damned gymnasts? “What did you say about the Chairman?! How dare you? Now leap about the house for a few hours- no one questions the communist party!”
- At a play date: this is tricky, as you may have to save face if the question is posed in front of another parent- or worse yet, in front of one of those “progressive” lunatics who wants to explain everything down to the last grotesque detail, especially if it has to do with body fluids (because their mommy and daddy never told them “the truth”). This deflection must be clever, believable and self-serving. Nothing is more credible than a parent’s need to brag about their kids. So, a “where do girls pee from if they have no boy parts?” can be followed with an “anatomy is such a fascinating subject for Tommy. The interconnectivity of it all, cause and effect. Just drives him wild! Have you heard him sing Dem Bones yet?!? He’s so culturally curious, too. I believe it was originally an African American slave tune referring to the Second Coming. Come on Tommy, regale us with your version of Dem Bones!” Jumping up and down while clapping helps rile the kids up and the other parent looks like an envious jerk if he or she doesn’t beg for the song, too. Easy-peasy, but you have to think fast! Oh, and be fairly shameless.
- On the playground: this is where pratfalls come in pretty darned handy, especially if, again, other parents are present. I always am sure to be lurking near a bench to cushion a well-timed fall, but they really have great layers of spongy mulch in most playgrounds nowadays; so, there is really no excuse to flub this one. For the particularly nervous, a simple misplaced step while approaching the overly curious child, followed by a quick regaining of balance, can be hammed up with a holler and some avid hand fanning afterwards. Another no-brainer!
Deflection, as you can see, is a basic tool of the trade that can easily be extrapolated into all sorts of situations at work and at home. You can even try it out on your spouse! I hate having to explain the credit card bill.