Why arguing with a two-year old is like writing an abstract
As I crouched down on the floor the other day arguing with my two-year old I thought “this is so similiar to writing an abstract” or at least the content of an abstract. The topic of disagreement was irrelevant but like most things involving young kids, it took on massive importance and we were both fiercely trying to make our case.
My argument went something like this:
“No, you can’t put your toys to sleep in the toilet"
“That bear was given to your brother when he was born.”
“And anyway where are your clothes and why is the dog’s food bowl floating in the dog’s water bucket?”
Her argument went something along the lines of:
“You naughty mummy”
or her favourite insult at the moment
“You naughty baby mummy” (being a baby is apparently un-cool now).
And the rest was ear-shattering screaming followed by arm thrashing and head movements to match.
So there I was trying to think how I could get the toys (including one sentimental teddy bear) out of the toilet without my go-to bribe of “want a biscuit?” I suddenly realised – this is just like writing an abstract!
Why arguing with a two year old is like writing an abstract
1) You have limited time and space to make your case. Every word needs to count and needs to be carefully selected to best represent the overall work.
2) It has to only include the most relevant information. While it might be tempting to include some of the more interesting details of your work, you have to stick to main themes or findings in the abstract and hope the reader will be willing to find out more in the proper article/essay.
3) It has to be engaging. Despite being very academic in nature the abstract is still your ” first impression” so it needs to be enticing
How does this relate to arguing with a kid?
1) You need to talk quickly in the pauses between the crying or yelling. No time for superfluous language.
2) They don’t care about details/specifics like how the bear has been kept on a shelf out of harm’s way for 7 years or ‘by the way how did you even get it in the first place’? All that matters at this moment is that those toys NEED TO SLEEP IN THE TOILET.
3) Well anyone who is dumb enough to argue with little kids (like me!) doesn’t need to be told this: Boring = nagging = more screaming = ME: do anything to stop the racket!
In case you are wondering how this turned out it involved all of the above points woven into a quick warning that toys can’t swim and will die a death in the toilet bowl. But… that was a bad move too as the crying then expanded to include future grief over the dead toys.
Make sure your abstract concludes with the overall message rather than one element of the argument. In the case of my research there were many examples of the difficulties mothers face when combining study and education but I didnt want that message to dominate my findings as that was only one aspect of the experience. Be clear about what your main conclusion is and tailor the abstract to reflect it.