Negotiations (no love songs)

You do this too, don’t you?¬†Child says “I want to do blah,” but you want child to do blee. So you say “First you do blee and then you can do blah.” That’s how it works, right?

Maybe this will work better with a concrete example:

Me: Time to brush your teeth.
Mabel: Read me a story.
Me: First we’ll brush your teeth, and then I’ll read you a story.

But then she turns the tables on me.

Mabel: No. First, read me a story, and then I’ll brush my teeth.

And so it goes. The thing is, I can’t really come up with a convincing reason why we should do it my way round every time. Where’s the justice in that? “Because I’m the parent” is tempting but unconvincing, in spite of its undeniable truth. “Because I want to go downstairs and watch Sherlock before I turn into a pumpkin” will likewise win me no accolades from my tough audience.

And I feel like I should give her a chance to prove herself and agree to try it her way. Except that I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her (I mean, I could throw her, but I generally restrain myself) so I’m pretty much 100% certain that she’s going to renege on this deal.

But I need to show her that I do trust her, so sometimes I go along with it. And then – surprise! – she turns out to have been bluffing and I’m left without a leg to stand on and another story down and teeth no nearer brushed.

I’m clearly doing something wrong here.

6 thoughts on “Negotiations (no love songs)

  1. Mel

    Oh, that’s when I turn up the guilt and say, “you just used up something that is really hard to build, and that is trust. I’ll give you a chance right now to turn this around so you don’t use up my trust on something as silly and inconsequential as teeth brushing. But if you’d rather have me stop trusting you and treat you like I did when you were younger and you hadn’t built trust yet, I can do that too. Your choice.”

    It’s not really a Jedi mind trick. I mean, it’s the real world. With a safety net of do-overs.

  2. Thrift Store Mama

    Ah yes, this is SO Ramona. All the time. Mr. Quimby seems to think she does better with just one line commands “Brush your teeth” rather than the “if, then” or “now, later” sort of statements. I haven’t tested it enough to be sure yet.

    Their little brains just aren’t developed enough yet to understand the “trust” conversation (or at least my 6 y.o. isn’t). I’m fairly certain Ramona would kick me in the shins whilst I was distracted by my trust talk.

    1. Maud Post author

      It’s probably good that Ramona and Mabel live so far away from each other now. If they ever get together, much mischief will be managed.

  3. Elizabeth MacDonnell

    I must admit I do the whole guilt trip of ‘you can’t let me down now because I’d be so disappointed’ the word disappointed rates far higher than any threats I could possibly think of….and I have thought of LOADS….might just be worth a try.


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