Last year, I took my three oldest kids to the movie theatre to watch a film.
After the film, my children all got into the car with their leftover bags of popcorn, which led to the following:
Me: "Don't eat popcorn while I'm driving." (Because it's a choking hazard, and because it's messy.)
Kids, in unison: "Okay, Daddy."
Me, one minute later, looking into the rear-view mirror as I'm stopped at a red light and seeing my youngest daughter Charlotte munching on popcorn: "CHARLOTTE! I JUST said not to eat popcorn while I'm driving!"
Charlotte: "But we stopped."
You see, I forgot to specify that "driving" meant all the time we were in the car, not just while we were moving.
Charlotte wasn't trying to be funny. And she didn't misunderstand my direction.
She's a loophole thinker.
She saw an opportunity to get what she wanted (the popcorn) within the boundaries of the rules as stated ("don't eat popcorn while I'm driving"), and then took full advantage of the fact that I hadn't more clearly defined the rules.
I couldn't even hold back my laughter, let alone be upset with her.
If you have a loophole thinker on your team, here's what you need to know:
1) They're probably fantastic problem-solvers; the easiest way to get them to do something might be to tell them it can't be done because when that happens, their brains just can't help themselves from finding ways around the obstacles.
2) They're creative. Not always in the "check out my latest painting" or "listen to this song I just wrote" kind of way, but in the way that matters when you need to look at something in an entirely new way.
3) They can be difficult to manage. That's right, it's not all sunshine and unicorns with loophole thinkers; the fact that they won't usually accept "no" also means they usually won't accept a "no" from you.
That's not a bad thing, though.
Sure, as a parent, it would be much easier for me to teach my kids to never look for loopholes, and to punish them when they did.
But I do the opposite.
When my children find a loophole, not only are they not punished for it, they're rewarded profusely.
I want to encourage that type of behaviour in them as adults. Because I'd much rather be surrounded by people who are great at solving problems than people who just do what they're told, no questions asked.