Can you suggest any comebacks to silence kids who have an answer to everything? I don’t always know how to respond to their logic.

Socrates was a pretty bright guy, but he was never really challenged. He only argued with grown-ups who totally disagreed with him. He never had to match wits with a 12-year-old who refused to understand why he wasn’t allowed to stay out after dark.

The trouble with kid logic is that it can sound rational — until you ponder it for three or four seconds. Certainly, it makes perfect sense to the child using it. In his eyes, if our brain cells weren’t so fossilized by age, we’d fully accept his flawless line of reasoning.

Sherlock: Why can’t I stay out a half hour past dark?

Parent: Because it’s not safe. For one thing, there are no people round.

Sherlock: If there are no people around, it’s safer.

Parent: Why would you want to stay out after dark? None of your friends are allowed to.

Sherlock: That’s why I want to. I think I need private time alone.

Parent: I just feel better when I know you’re home safe.

Sherlock: Then why do you make me go to school?

Parent: That’s completely different.

Sherlock: Yeah, it is. At school, I’m gone for six hours. After dark, I’m only gone for half an hour.

The only reasonable conclusion about this sort of discourse is that the longer it goes on, the more illogical it becomes. Put another way, the more we argue, the further apart we get. There is no resolution because grown-ups and kids don’t regularly think on the same plane. Kids are much better at pulling us down to their level than we are at pulling them up to ours.

The most logical comeback to kid logic is no comeback at all. End the exchange as quickly as possible. Even so, to paraphrase the poet, don’t expect Sherlock to go quietly into that good night. He may rage against the dying of the fight. Getting to do what he wants is riding on his ability to fight unfairly. Therefore, you may need a few debate-closing options.

Upon hearing resistance to your initial explanation, you may say, “I gave you my reason. You didn’t like it.” Then say no more. Asking yourself “When was the last time I won one of these?” should help curb your urge to engage in any further word wrestling.

The doctor is always

in at