I have met my match in the interview game

I’m fairly convinced that I’m going to one day see my daughter speaking in a Congressional hearing — and she won’t make it easy on those who are asking the questions.

Why do I say this?

I’ve spent my entire adult life asking people questions for a living. I can usually tell when someone is withholding information, or trying to distract me by changing the subject or, on the flip side, is being sincere and trying to answer to the best of his or her abilities. My daughter, at the ripe old age of 4, is a case study in being a difficult interview. Am I overreacting? I’ll let you be the judge.

Last week, as I picked her up from pre-K, she had a scowl on her face as she huff-and-puffed past me on the way to my vehicle.

“How’d your day go, kiddo?”

She spun around to look at me and I could tell she was on the verge of tears. She said, “I had a rough day at school,” turned around and went back to walking to my truck.

Obviously, I just can’t let that go, so after I strapped her into her seat and got back behind the wheel, I adjusted my rearview mirror so I could see her and asked her if she wanted to talk about what made her day so rough.

“No. Nothing. It was just a rough day.”

“Did you get in trouble with your teacher?”

“No. It was a rough day.”

“Do you want a snack?”

A-ha! My gateway into the girl’s psyche. She smiled, reached out her hand and accepted the little bag of fruit snacks I had brought along for the ride, per her mother’s helpful advice.

“So, what happened at school today?”

“A boy was mean to me.”

Admittedly, my hackles went up a little bit with that statement. It wasn’t so much that I was concerned that she was being picked on by another child — that happens, and the staff at her school is great. There was no doubt in my mind they keep an eye on everything. No, my fear was that I was once a young boy who was sometimes mean to girls.

Girls I liked.

That sent shudders through my body, and a tear came ran down my cheek. A look into the rearview mirror told me that she was more interested in her fruit snacks than anything else, so I figured I could press on a little bit. But I wanted to be delicate, as well.

“Well, what happened?”

“He knocked over something I was playing with. But my friend told him to stop.”

“Oh. So, that’s the part you should be thinking about, right? A little girl defended you, and now you know you have a very good friend in her, right?”

“It’s a boy, Daddy.”

I’ve seen people hyperventilate before. I recognized the signs as soon as it hit me, but I didn’t have a brown paper bag to breathe into, as I’ve seen in the movies. I rolled down my window to get some fresh air. Dear God. Now another little boy is defending her from the other little boy. Well, it was a good life, I figured. But I would be slipping away into that good night soon enough at this rate.

“So, your new little friend is a boy?”

“Yeah, he’s nice. Don’t you want me to have friends?”

“Yes, yes, yes. Of course I do, honey.”

“Then why do you get upset when I say that Jack is my boyfriend?”

Two things that are important to note here: First, Jack has been her friend since birth, and the two of them love making me crazy by saying they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Second, my daughter has somehow changed the course of this conversation to me being the one answering the questions. In essence, she took control of the interview. A no-no in my line of work.

“I’m just joking with you guys about that. I love Jack. You know that. So, if your friend stood up for you, and nothing else bad happened, then it wasn’t too rough of a day, right?”

“Yeah, it was fun other than that.” She then went on to tell me about how nice her teachers are, and how she likes playing and learning at school.

“I’m glad you like your teachers. Do you ever get in trouble with them?”

“No. Some kids don’t listen, but I do.”

“That’s my girl.”

Everything was good after that. We got home, played a little bit and watched one of her shows.

“So, I got in a little trouble with my teacher.”

“Oh, yeah? What happened?”

“All the kids were cleaning up the toys and I hid under a table.”

“Why did you hide under a table?”

“I didn’t want to clean.”

“You know better than that, kiddo. We all have to do our part.”

“Daddy, I have a boyfriend...”