I was talking to a friend about her little girl, Lorelei, who is now 4 years old. Because both parents are darn clever with pretty impressive vocabularies, this 4-year-old is unusually articulate.

The problem with a very articulate 4-year-old is that it really throws you off. You have this individual who sounds like a reasonable, rational person, but they are actually 4 and therefore are in no way, shape, or form reasonable about anything. Like marshmallows.

For good reasons every parent will understand, marshmallows in my friend’s home are rationed to ensure no one gets a tummy ache. Of course, rational rationing is never something that 4-year-olds are fans of under any circumstances. This particular clever and articulate 4-year-old knew how to hide with the entire bag, devour it, then admit to her crime as she began to feel the tummy ache’s onset. And while Lorelei couldn’t exactly plead her case effectively, she was still able to manage to be adorably contrite because of her command of the English language.

This places parents into the terrible position of having to mete out some level of punishment to someone too cute for words, and not to laugh during the very serious confession. We do what we must as parents, upset that we didn’t think of recording the entire thing so we could be famous for 2.5 seconds on YouTube.

Anyway, in my experience, it doesn’t end here. Articulate 4-year olds turn from marshmallow hiders into family debaters. I know because we have one in our house. Mireya, who is now 17, has the certainty of the very bright and the very young. She will take on a position and commit fully to the argument. And woe be to the person who takes an opposing view because, folks, you are in for an ongoing debate that could run for days.

It’ll go like this. Some issue will come up and inexplicably you take the opposing view. After a while you’ll think the matter has been settled with an “agree to disagree” technique. Then several hours later she’ll raise another point on the issue. Likely you’ll counter, mostly because you have an equally intransigent position (after all she had to get this way from someone in the family). Then hour after hour, day after day, she’ll chip away at your resolve relentlessly. Three days later you will have either changed your mind or developed a new avoidance technique that requires relocation or the flu.

My friend is fully aware of the 4-year-old articulate handful she’s got, and she seems pretty well prepared for the ongoing challenges. But between you and me, my money is on the marshmallow princess. Cuz, boy, have I been there?

Winter Prosapio is a writer, a wife, and a working mom of two girls, two cats, and one ridiculously enthusiastic terrier mix.

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