How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

“Let’s Make a Deal!” -Kids

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I walked into the living room and straight into an intense parent/child negotiation between my wife and our 8-year-old:

Wife: No more apple juice, you said your tummy hurts.

8yo: It’s not hurting.

Wife: 100% not hurting?

8yo: 50%.

Wife: [stern look]

8yo: Okay 75% not hurting. [raises eyebrows hopefully]

I wrestled my chuckle into a mere smirk, so as not to influence the proceedings. This exchange made me think of all the deal-making my wife and I have done through the years. The haggling most every parent knows, really.

As he’s gotten older, he’s become a much craftier closer. When he was little, it was so adorably clumsy.

“Fiye moh minutes, pwwweeeease!” the starting bid in his toddler bedtime negotiations, at an age where one has little to no concept of time, let alone minutes.

Refused, he’d persist with, “Okay, TEN more minutes!” And I honestly couldn’t tell if he was playing some kind of wonky hardball, or if he just didn’t really know the relationship between five and ten.

So, I’d do what any politician would do, I tried not to laugh and agreed to “five more minutes.” Then told him to end off two minutes later. Heh heh heh!

The tradition of parents “making deals” with their kids is as old as humans getting stung by bees, probably. And about as much fun, most of the time.

When they’re really young and just starting out at haggling, they’ll offer you their toys and their kisses and, of course, their lies.

Lies like, “I go to bed early tomowwow day!” and “I’ll eat da whole fing next time!” and “I’ll be good forevewww and evewww I pwomise.” Lies. Cute lies for sure, and that’s why I bring it up.

For my wife and I, that’s actually a kind of advantage our kid seems to have. Cuteness. When I look at it completely honestly, there’s a part of me that is totally willing to accept it as bargaining chip and maybe I even encourage it a bit; a part of me that values his cuteness as a valid form of currency in the negotiations for a toy he can’t afford, or another cookie, or more whatever.

I know I know. Don’t get all preachy and condescending in the comments. No, I don’t want him to be an emotionally-stunted, spoiled little jerk. And, yes, I do want him to be smart and able and his own person and all that good-parenty jazz. But still, again being 100% honest, it’s hard for me to completely let go of his cuteness and its influence on me. His silliness. His naiveté. His need.

So, my wife and I are occasionally suckers in these negotiations. And he knows it. And we don’t care that he does.

He’s our last baby. We’ll indulge ourselves from time to time, for as long as we can. Or until he gets old enough that it’s just sad and weird. Like after his voice has changed, or he’s moved out, or gets married.

Okay. Maybe even then. But only on holidays or something! (sigh)



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