The curse of an overly verbal child is the endless, and I do mean endless, negotiations. The constant “why”s and “what’s dat called”s don’t rattle me at all, but the back-and-forth of negotiating with a toddler simultaneously crack me up and wear me down.
My kid has always had a special knack for charming people into getting what he wants. He’s just so darn cute and he knows just how to ask and he’s surprisingly perceptive about which techniques to use on a given person in a given situation. His emotional intelligence is far higher than many of the adults I know! Add in his strong linguistic skills and you’ve got a recipe for a very skilled negotiator.
I try to balance the times when I stick to my guns entirely (when it really matters) and when I can give a little. Rarely do I concede to his wants entirely, even if the situation allows, strictly on principle. (What can I say, I am stubborn and have been known to stand my ground firmly, even when it wasn’t really the right call. I’m human too).
One of his favorite things to do recently is watch a Taylor Swift music video. Don’t ask me how this little habit got started, as I really can’t remember, but he totally loves her. (I’m sure it was a desperate attempt to get a few minutes of quiet during a particularly unrelenting negotiation/chatterbox session). He calls her “The Pretty Lady”. Adorable.
Anyway, this little 3 minute break while he watches the video has become a lifesaver when I’m trying to cook dinner and Benjamin is traveling. It’s a huge treat for him because I’m super anal about Owen’s screen time and only allow a little bit each day, so he’s constantly negotiating to get more. He comes right in the door after school now and asks “Can I watch Taylor Swift while you cook, Mommy?”. Usually my mouth says no before I can even realize it, and right then and there the negotiations start. “Just one?” he says, holding up one adorable little teeny tiny finger in the air, his eyebrows raised hopefully. “Just one, no fussin’?” (translation: if you let me watch just one video, I won’t fuss when you turn it off).
I realize this example is less of a negotiation and more of him trying to convince me to let him do something… but we often have exchanges where we each whittle down what we’re asking for until we come to a mutually beneficial solution. Negotiating/mediating at its best. Thankfully, Owen seems to be a relatively logical and honest negotiator (especially for a 2 year old). Once we agree on the solution, whatever it is (one Taylor Swift video, for instance, with no fussing when it’s over), we always follow through. No fussing. Both of us.
So although sometimes it feels like all I’m doing is giving in (which KILLS me, as someone who is constantly trying to teach the “you can’t always get what you want” object lesson), I’m also raising a little person who is remarkably good at compromise. Which is something a lot of adults I know could use a good lesson in.
Bending the rules and being flexible can be an important thing. Once again, Owen has taught me an invaluable life lesson. He’s wiser than he will ever know.