The Art of Negotiation

Negotiation with a child
A discussion aimed at reaching an agreement which undoubtedly results in one member of the discussion crying until they get what they want.

It’s a summer’s morning, we’ve been up since 6, all activities and toys in the four walls of our house have been exhausted, Ivy is growing irritable and the need for fresh air and open spaces has hit red alert status. So we hit the park, it’s just what we all needed, time away from Peppa, surrounded by screaming kids in the baking sun.

There’s no way the location of the cafe/ice cream stand in the park isn’t planned, in fact I imagine the owners got together and thought “how can we fleece all the parents of this town as quickly as possible”, the answer was its location. It’s sneezing distance from the play area, just close enough to get a whiff of the chips in the deep fat fryer, or worse, for your little one to make eye contact with the ice cream menu.

It’s not long before the playground has lost Ivy’s attention, and the offer to go and see the ducks in the lake seems like a better idea. The issue, it’s a walk past the ice cream stand. And just like clockwork “I have a ice cream?”. The oldest white lie in the book of “sorry sweetheart, it’s closed” isn’t going to work very well when there’s a queue of children waiting for ice cream, with each happy customer skipping away like all their Christmases have come at once. So this time we’re going with the truth, “not today sweetheart”.

And then it strikes, the bottom lip wobble, the build up to a tantrum almost like the pre-rumblings of an earthquake (because we have a lot of them in the UK), I can feel the sweat pouring down my forehead as I realise it’s negotiation time with what feels like every parent in the park watching, “we can have ice cream at home”, “maybe later”, “why don’t we have a cereal bar” (Really clutching at straws there Tom, nice one). I’m taken back to the days when I was young and my mum and dad would offer the alternative of a banana when you really just wanted a fizzy drink and some sweets… it’s just not the same.

So I try to play the distraction card, “let’s go and see the ducks”… not working. It’s incredible how heavy a 2 stone 2 year old can make themselves when they don’t want to move. They become a 250 kilo atlas stone in a matter of seconds. Then the internal monologue: Is an ice cream such a big deal? Will it make the day run smoother? Will it stop me from feeling like the park is staring at me? Parenting is about picking your battles and this one I am going to opt for lose. One defeated parent, and one VERY happy, ice cream eating 2 year old later and we head home.

The further we get into parenthood, the more I understand every day is a series of negotiations; babybel vs. cereal at breakfast, peppa pig vs. reading a book before bed, the dreaded walking vs. getting in the buggy when we’re out shopping, and the best one at the moment, wearing trousers vs. not wearing trousers to nursery (when did our daughter become such an exhibitionist?). Every day has a test of a different scale, and every day you learn a bit more about yourself. All I know is I am wrapped around our daughters little finger, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.

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