The Art of Getting Your Way: lessons from a six year old

1385359_10201276757575966_395087502_n“J, are you wearing pants today?”


It’s almost Halloween in Boston, and my six year old is still wearing shorts.  My husband wants to fight with him on this one; force him to put pants on; it’s the principal.  I can’t be bothered.  Because, the kid has a point.  “Mom, I get hot with pants on.  And if I get cold, I’ll put on pants.  And, shorts look cooler.”  All true.  It’s hard to argue with his logic.

Last week we were in the super market buying bread.  I picked up the sliced bread from the bread aisle, and Jalen asked if we could go to the bakery to get a challah.  Once we had both breads in hand, I asked him to choose which one he’d prefer.  He launched into a very pragmatic argument about how one bread is better for toast and that everyone could take turns with their sandwiches.  I shrugged my shoulders and began to bring both loafs to the register.  Until, J’s face lit up and he said, “Mom, why can I convince you to give me whatever I want?”  Busted!  Sliced bread back on the shelf.  Challah purchased.  I win!

Except, not really.  Because my six year old is right; he’s got me figured out.  His logic is unquestionable, he asks for reasonable things, he’s polite, and when he loses he does so gracefully.  He’s an expert negotiator.  It’s like he’s been hiding “How to Win Friends and Influence People” under his pillow at night.

The list of wins under his belt in the last two weeks:  I think we should go apple picking.  I’d like a pre-halloween pumpkin.  We should make the yard scary.  I want to be a ghost this year.  I’d like a stuffed animal that looks like this.  I’d also like clay for a matching statue.  My neon green hat looks good with this outfit.  I want marshmallows for snack.  I want to visit Tino.  Let’s put up the tent in our room.

Rarely can you learn business prowess from a six year old.  But, lately I find myself modeling his behavior.  Did I succinctly communicate what I want?  Did I ask for something big and allow for negotiation?  Did I give an organized, simple explanation for my request?  Did I appreciate what I got?  Did I do it all with a smile?  It’s shocking how easy it is when you look at it through a child’s eyes.

Last week, J was standing on the back porch, staring at the back yard.  “Mom, I want a tree house.”  Jalen, we don’t have trees.  “We can go to Home Depot and buy one.”  Jalen, that tree won’t be big enough.  “It can grow.”  Not fast enough, buddy. “I want a private hideout to play in.  What’s under the porch?”  Trash and dirt, kiddo. “But, when you build a new porch it won’t be dirty, we can clean it.”  True.  But it will be dark. “We can put a light in it.  And, a window.”  He smiles.  Damn, he wins again!!

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