Yesterday the kids and I took a road trip to collect Phil from the airport. It’s only just over an hours drive for us, but the kids decided they needed candy for the “long trip”.
Gracie decided on a big bag of skittles and Jackson decided on a smaller container of tic tacs. But of course it doesn’t matter what you choose, the other person’s candy is always calling you, tempting you, making you wonder if you chose the right candy for the trip. Should I have gone for another option? What if theirs is nicer? What if theirs lasts longer?
“Do you want to swap some candy?”
“Sure, we can make a deal?”
And so the negotiations began….
Now when it came down to it, Gracie wanted one of Jackson’s, more than he wanted hers, so he had the upper hand (and he knew it, actually he even brought that up at one stage in the negotiations!). On the other hand, Gracie had copious amounts to negotiate with, and Jackson, not so much! She wanted a tic tac but was not completely happy to part with her precious candy! And so the banter began:
I’ll give you 2 for 1
No, 3 for 1
No way, that’s a rip-off! 2 for 1
Ok, 4 for 1
What! You can’t go up in price
Yes, I can!
No way, I don’t want one anyway (long pause) Ok, 3 for 1 and I choose the flavours or 2 for 1 and you can choose
But I want 3 and to choose
Nope, 2 and you can choose, and I can choose the colour of the tic tac
No way, I choose the tic tac you get
And so on…. And so on…. And so on!
This honestly felt like it went on for the whole trip!
On one hand, it was driving me nuts and on the hand I was kinda proud of the kids! Ok, so they were only negotiating over candy, but both of them knew what they wanted, and were prepared to work it through till there was an amicable agreement. Neither, just gave in, got angry or got aggressive! Lawyers in the making right here!
It got me thinking about how we raise our kids. I could have stepped in at any stage and stopped all the fuss, I mean really, all this negotiating over 2 bits of candy, seriously, are there not more important things in the world to negotiate over? I could have laid down the law and told them to just stick with the candy they chose or I would just eat all of it! But what would that have taught them? That Mum just comes in and fix things with her solutions (which I have learnt over the years aren’t always the best answer!) That they are not capable of coming to a solution themselves? That someone else will always fix things for them, or tell them what to do? No, this is something the kids had to sort out themselves. Sure, it’s only candy today, but who knows what it will be later on in life. And I won’t always be there to “fix things” for them!
So in the end, Jackson got 3 skittles of his choice and Gracie got her choice of tic tac, so 2 happy kids, that came up with the solution all by themselves.
As for me, well, I had my own stash, and I wasn’t negotiating with anyone!