Things are getting fractious between myself and E. Last night I had the audacity to ask a question so outrageous in its presumptuousness that E has had to put his foot down. My exact words were: “Please come upstairs, your bath is ready.”
The request was met with a silence that spoke a thousand words, most of them ‘no’. I asked again. He laid down on the sofa, just in case simply sitting was taken as a sign that he may well do as he was told any minute.
We are now entering negotiation territory. Actually, to call it a negotiation is somewhat inaccurate. The definition of negotiation is something along the lines of ‘discussion aimed at reaching an agreement’. What is actually happening here is from my side, a discussion aimed at total submission, and from E’s side a discussion aimed at making me chew off my own fingers in utter frustration.
I take a deep breath and try to channel Super Nanny, but inadvertently seem to have channelled Freddie from Elm Street.
“Get upstairs now,” I say, trying hard to remain calm and not shout. This endeavour, it turns out, is a complete and utter waste of time and as E replies with a defiant ‘no’, calm, quiet and their bedfellow effective parenting all leave the room in a huff.
Despite overwhelming evidence that shouting does not work, I decide to give it one last go in case since I last shouted, it has undergone an effectiveness make over and is now the parenting style du jour. Alas, no. One shout later and E is lying on his stomach, just in case lying on his back was taken as a sign that he may weaken at any minute.
So I bring out the big guns, used by professional negotiators everywhere when swift resolution is required.
“If you don’t get upstairs now, you will lose television for a week.” Hah, stick that, stroppy boy.
“I don’t want television anyway,” E replies. Now, despite knowing that this is a lie of an impressive magnitude, it immediately neuters my threat and I cast around for Plan B.
“Fine. I will take away your pirate ship.”
“I don’t want my pirate ship.”
“Your scooter.” Plan C isn’t up to much, admittedly.
“Don’t want it.”
Goddamn him. How are we supposed to negotiate if he doesn’t stick to the rules? Rule one: on threat of treat removal, capitulate immediately. Rule two: never pretend that the treats or toys are indispensable. Rule three: don’t wipe your nose on your sleeve. (Okay, that is not a negotiation rule. But given the state of his sleeves, it’s worth a try at any juncture).
So I move to Rule four: when rules one and two are ignored, abort negotiation.
I pick him up, kicking and screaming, and haul him up the stairs. Well, I think negotiation is overrated… particularly when I am losing.