Monday, August 3, 2009

The fine art form of negotiating

…that I failed miserably today.

Ethan started Vacation Bible School today. He absolutely loved it last year. However, last year I took him and the neighbor, Christopher, as I was just released to drive (post broken elbow) at that point, but still not back to work. I also stayed and volunteered – in a different room – but I was still in the building. This year, I am of course at work so I can’t take him. But really, that shouldn’t be that big of a deal, she says cluelessly.

His new thing lately is not wanting to go to something, especially if we are not driving him or going with him. However, once he goes, he has a great time and all is okay in the world. The struggle beforehand can be challenging though. Today was the worst case of this yet. This morning he woke up very upset about going to VBS and very upset about going in Mr. Mike’s (Christopher’s dad) car. As I stood there discussing this with him, mid getting myself ready for work this morning, I thought… ‘ooo this might not go well.’ Premonition, I think... okay it was more like when it gets really quiet after a bad storm and then you hear a 'freight train.' But, he let me leave so I was thinking the tonado might not come.

At 8 am this morning I got a call from Ms. Erin though, telling me Ethan is not going, won’t eat, won’t get dressed and is basically holding onto the kitchen chair. Okay, so to this point, most of my negotiations with him have happened in person, not over the phone. After much back and forth with him, I told him to hold (yes a four year old) and I conferenced daddy in on the call. Oh yea, no kidding, I called Steve and said “I have our son on the other line, he’s boycotting VBS, I need your help.”

So, here are Steve and I on a three way conference call negotiating with a four year old who clearly knows at this point that he holds the upper hand. This is when the negations turned to bribery. Most of you who know me, know I am not okay with this type of thing (it sends the wrong message - rewarding the wrong behaviors)… but like I have said in the past… “never say never.” One small super hero (mommy's offering) AND a couple super hero books (daddy's offering) later, we have successfully bribed…er... negotiated a deal with our son to go to VBS with Mr. Mike. His tone immediately changed from a ‘you can’t make me go/I'll make you feel too guilty and horrible’ whine/cry to a ‘I’ve won!’ whine (not wanting to seem to happy to give it away). From that point on, everything I had mentioned before that he disagreed with, he now agreed:

M: You’ll get more bible buddies.
E: I do like bible buddies.
M: Maybe Professor Wilma will be there.
E: She was really funny.

And so on. Basically a different kid was on the other line. Hmmmm…

After Ethan hung up I told Steve “you know we have just reached a new all time low in our parenting.” Sigh… I did already have the super hero which I got on clearance (of course) and was holding for a good moment or holiday – this was as good as any right??!!

When he got home I told Ms. Erin to have him call me. It went like this:

E: I did a great job in Mr. Mike’s car.
M: Good.
(before I could say anything else)
E: I’m just going to ask this mom – are Bolster Gold and the books on their way?
M: No. I’ll give you Bolster Gold when I get home and daddy is bringing the books. (thinking first - seriously??!! and then, for sure now I know he knew he had the upper hand during this process)
E: Okay.
M: Did you have a good time?
E: I sure did.

He went on to talk about some of what they did and that he was disappointed he didn’t get to bring home his bible buddy yet and that Professor Wilma was not there (a hilarious character from last year’s school). He was all laughter and happy and getting ready to eat lunch.

I’m pretty sure we completely failed today and that he completely knew what he was doing. And if you would have told me I would have to conference call the three of us together to negotiate when my child was only four years old... I wouldn't have believed you. Silly, silly mommy... never say never...

Ethan = 1
Mommy and Daddy = 0

1 comment:

Karen said...

I never have thought bribery was such a bad thing, in certain circumstances. Give yourself a break! You haven't ruined him for life! :)

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