Thursday, March 12, 2015

Zoe vs. Sun Tzu's The Art of War

When I hear the words "military strategist and tactician," I naturally think of Zoe. But if you add the words "ancient" and "Chinese" I'd probably have to give it to Sun Tzu.
Sun Tzu was a high-ranking general who lived around the fifth century B.C.E., and one day he recorded his thoughts and theories about warfare and these became The Art of War. Somehow, Zoe absorbed these lessons, and she's been an avid disciple of Sun Tzu since she delivered her first head butt to Daddy's groin.
The following are 6 quotes from The Art of War and how I believe Zoe has internalized and expressed them in order to defeat us utterly.

Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then they will be amenable to your will.
From my glasses to Daddy's phone to a hank of my hair, the little warmonger has held these items in her grubby fingers, threatening to drop, bang, yank, or otherwise misuse them unless we give in to her demands, implied or screamed for on a repeating loop (juice, candy, more episodes of Team Umizoomi).

Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
I don't think she's gotten the hang of the first part since her plans are pretty transparent, and consistent (see above re juice, etc.), but the thunderbolt part she's mastered.
For example, the other night when I bent down to pick up grains of rice she dropped while eating dinner, she was on me like General Bai Qi was on the Zhao army during the Warring States period from China's history. Trust me, it was bad.

Where's Weili?

Appear where you are not expected.
Mostly the bathroom. Though Sun Tzu lived before the advent of indoor plumbing, Zoe gave this dictum a modern twist.
Often I'm in medias wipe when the door knob turns, and there she is, asking me what I'm doing.
Or: I'm washing my hair, I rinse out the shampoo, open my eyes, and, bam, Zoe's little face is peering around the shower curtain.
Or: It's 3 A.M. and I startle awake sensing a presence at my bedside. My eyes open and, bam, mere millimeters away another pair of eyes in the darkness, above a mouth that whines.

If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate them.
Now it makes sense. It's strategy.

Dammit, gentlemen, she's just one four-year-old girl!

Appear weak when you are strong, strong when you are weak.
Remember in The Wrath of Khan when Captain Kirk and his crew pretended The Enterprise had sustained more damage than it really had in order to lure Khan into a trap? Like that, but with less girdles and more whining.
Whining seems like a weapon of the weak and powerless. But is it? I say to Zoe, I can't understand you when you whine, but she knows that's not true and that I read that I should say that in Parents magazine, whose editors, while well meaning, don't even know when it comes to ancient Chinese warlords.
Zoe intuitively understands when I'm trying to out Sun Tzu her, and since we both know we're both faking it, me my strength, Zoe her weakness, well, we both know who the victor will be.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
I'll sum up Zoe's strategy in four words: Cute for the win.

Zoe: 83; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

To win the battle as well as the war 
every Thursday, click here.


  1. Any post with The Wrath of Khan is ok by me. Mix in some Ancient Asian rageaholics and I'm sold.

  2. You are my audience.

  3. Bwah hahahaha! Love it, and ye Gods, explains every toddler I've ever had.

  4. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 17, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    Thanks! And you know toddlers! ;)

  5. Most brilliant. Opening sentence. Ever. And hilarious hilarious HILARIOUS, smart awesome post. Love and identify. I think my children have been exposed to Sun Tzu as well.

  6. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 18, 2015 at 5:26 PM

    Thanks, Katia! They are all little warriors in the making.

  7. You are a genius!! :D This post is awesome!!!

  8. Thanks! You made my day.