My son is a chief negotiator – at 5. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he has a fascinating ability to ask 150 questions for detailed account of your reasoning in order for you to fully understand why it is you won’t allow him to do what it is he wants and to also help you rethink your initial decision; eventually forcing you to change your mind and submit to at least part of his demands. Some would say the force is strong with this one.
At the end of the day, I’m exhausted – as many parents are. It seems however, my son is still at his peak and retains the ability to bargain with the best of them. After his routine of bath, getting dressed and brushing his teeth, he starts his reasoning as to why I need to stay with him a bit longer – to read a book, to talk about his day, to discuss the inner workings of recess.
His famous line – ‘stay for two minutes’.
Did I mention I’m exhausted.
Well, do you know how long two minutes is? Of course you do – it’s 120 seconds. Some days – this day – it might as well be 4 hours. I’m tired. I’m not in the space to negotiate with a 5-year-old. I have fifty million things to do before I go to bed. I’m the freakin parent for crying out loud just GO THE HELL TO SLEEP!
I didn’t give him his two minutes. Instead, I gave them to me.
I walked into my office, sat at my desk and began to write. It was then I had a chance to take a nice long, deep breath (OK, maybe 10). I took a moment and reflected on what he asked for – a simple 120 seconds of my time so he could feel safe, comforted and loved.
I walked back into his room and while I sat back down on his bed, I placed my hand on his back. I said simply ‘I’m back and I’m ready to stay.’ He looked at me, took a deep breath himself and as he placed his head on his pillow, gently smiled and closed his eyes.
Ah – parenting.