The Negotiator

My son is developing at an incredible rate.

He’s getting taller, his hair is getting longer, his vocabulary is increasing. But even more impressively, he’s already picking up skills most of us use later in life, to beat the system.

At the young age of not-even-three, my innocent child is becoming a slick little dealmaker. It’s almost enough to make me sick proud.

I’ve already covered his discovery of lying, and his early, adorably frustrating attempts at procrastination. Lately he’s added a new skill to his bag of tricks: negotiation.toddlers, children, behavior, negotiation, human nature, parenting, dads, moms, sleeping, bedtime, funny, lifestyle, family, society, home, movies

He used to kick and scream when he didn’t want to go to bed. Now he looks me in the eye and begs for “one more short book,” or asks to cuddle on the couch “for ONE MINUTE. Just ONE MINUTE, Daddy.”

I think I preferred the kicking and screaming. Instead of being adorable it was simply infuriating, and I have no problem refusing my son when he’s being a prick. But he’s learned my weaknesses and he’s adapting accordingly.

Kids are crafty. They are born manipulators, and I mean that literally: they emerge cute as a button in order to engender the affection necessary to make parents overlook how massively inconvenient children are. If my kid’s smile didn’t melt my heart, there’s no way I’d wipe his ass.

Once they can speak, the ante is upped. Just the other day, my son asked me to turn off some music I had just put on. When I asked him why, he said: “Because I love you.” CHECK AND MATE. I turned the music off and gave him a big hug. Because I’m a sucker.

It’s because he has me wrapped around his finger that his development into a master debater actually has a few upsides. It actually allows me to save some face. When he puts forth a little effort, I can at least pretend that it was the strength of his argument (see: “Because I love you” above) that turned the tide, not the fact that I’m a total pushover. toddlers, children, behavior, negotiation, human nature, parenting, dads, moms, sleeping, bedtime, funny, lifestyle, family, society, home, movies, baby godfather, godfather, corleone, offer he can't refuse

Another plus is that these skills will come in handy later in life. It’ll be a total nightmare during his teen years, when he Daniel Kaffee’s us into letting him go to Cancun for Spring Break, but once he’s out of the house, it should pay dividends. Especially when he’s lobbying for a raise, or trying to get into someone’s pants, or talking his way out of a Mexican jail.

Until then, though, I’d better start driving a harder bargain, both my own satisfaction and to help him hone his skills. So the next time he tries to strong-arm me into letting him stay up “just a little bit later,” he’s going to wake up with Tigger’s head in his bed.

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