The Negotiator

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.

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