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Non Sequiturs (Or "I think, therefore I'd like to eat some ham.")

April 7, 2009

They annoy me when I find them in my students’ papers.  They infuriate me when I see them woven throughout political arguments.  But when uttered by my three-year-old, M, they fill me with pure joy (and, if I can help it, silent laughter).

Non sequiturs.  If I recall correctly from my high school Latin classes, the term can be loosely translated as “non followers.”

Non sequiturs occur when someone tries to conclude one point from another unrelated or incompatible point.  As in, “I am a Marxist.  That’s why I voted for John McCain.”  Or, “I want some chocolate  milk!  So someone should get me an aquarium!”  (I once heard someone shout these very words on a Chicago bus.)

The proper response to a non sequitur–in addition to a look of puzzlement–should be something along the lines of: “That doesn’t follow.”  (Unless, in the previous cases, you’re an ironic Marxist.  Or you drink your chocolate milk out of an aquarium.)  But in response to non sequiturs uttered by three-year-olds (who aren’t the biggest fans of logical reasoning in the first place), you generally have one of two choices: 1) Remain silent and chuckle to yourself, or 2) Continue to ask questions of said three-year-old and fall deep into an abyss of absurdity.  It just depends on how much time (and interest) you have.

For the past week, I have been documenting the various non sequiturs that have occurred in my conversations with M.  I don’t know if these conversations illustrate M’s brilliant sense of comic timing, his preschool-aged attempts to engage in logical reasoning, or his efforts to send his philosophically-trained mama into fits of rationally-frustrated giggles.

No matter the case, I’ve included three of my favorite “non-following” exchanges below.  The result is like a condensed version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  Except trippier.


Stretchy Necks

M (scratching his neck): My neck is not itchy.  It’s stretchy.

Me: It’s scratchy?

M (still scratching): No.  It’s stretchy.

Me: What does that mean?

M (without skipping a beat): It means that ‘stretchy’ begins with the letter ‘S.’

Me (skipping a few beats): Yes.  Yes it does.

Funky Prez

M (pointing to a picture of Miles Davis): Daddy, who’s that?

Tim: M, you know who that is!  We listen to his music all of the time!

M (smirking): Is it James Madison?

Tim: No…

M: That’s right, because James Madison was the godfather of funk.

And now for my very favorite…

What a clever (chocolate-obsessed) child

M: Mommy, you know why Franklin is my favorite show on Noggin?

Me: No, M, why?

M: Because you have to get me a piece of chocolate.

This one worked some sort of magical, illogical hypnosis on me because a few minutes later, M had a Dove chocolate egg in his hands.  So much for logical reasoning…

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    April 7, 2009 4:51 pm

    Hi Kristen, I love your blog! Your template is really nice, too. It suits your content. I look forward to stalking…er…keeping tabs on you guys as you move through life with your beautiful boys!


  2. renbeth permalink
    April 7, 2009 8:18 pm

    M is hilarious! I love that kid!

  3. Kristen permalink*
    April 7, 2009 8:45 pm

    Thanks, Jen!
    And just so you know, I’m a frequent “tab-keeper” of your blog. 🙂

  4. Kinsey permalink
    April 8, 2009 7:10 pm

    My nephew is the coolest kid ever…I’m just afraid he’ll work his ‘logic’ over on me and end up with handfuls of chocolates:)

  5. April 25, 2009 12:08 am

    Oh this made me LOL! My daughter will be 4 in June and she says so many of these funny types of things that never make sense! I never remember them, though, because I don’t think to write them down.

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