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Monday, August 15, 2011

How About This?

Parents who have even normal, everyday children will undeniably curse their offspring with the following hex, “I hope when you have kids, they grow up to be just like you!”

My parents never put this juju on me. For that, I thought I was a pretty upstanding child. I rarely got into trouble, and when I say that I mean I rarely took the blame. My one friend bore the brunt of explaining why we emptied out his parents’ garage with the grand idea that we were going to build a tree house with no prior architectural expertise or clearance to use sharp tools.  His Dad came home from work to find the yard littered with boards of varying sizes and shapes along with tools.   My friend had to clean it all up.  Me, I went home for dinner.

But I am here to tell you that regardless of how well you behaved as a little tyke, the curse is passed down whether your parents wish it or not. Take my kid, please. Kidding. But let’s take her, for example.

About two weeks ago she began asking for everything under the sun that she saw on television. My automatic and unwavering response to this was, “We’ll see.”  That usually stops the conversation right there. It’s like “We’ll see” is some magical phrase that pacifies the unending need to have whatever it is that she sees on that screen. Again and again she sees something else on TV that she wants and asks, to which I say, “We’ll see.”   She goes about her business and I go back to farming on my computer.  

And it’s not like it always about a toy. She saw some commercial for some kind of baking tool that makes cupcakes in the shape of lollipops that you can then put on a stick and decorate. Immediately, she bounded across the room and said, “Daddy, Daddy, I want that!”

“We’ll see.”

And it’s not like it’s always about what is on television.

This past week she’s been going on and on about wanting to go to Kennywood. For those of you not familiar with Pittsburgh, it’s our Disney World. It’s like Yinzer World. Since I wrenched my back a week ago, I haven’t able to move very fast, not like I ever did, but riding the Thunderbolt in my condition could have me in traction.

So, when she started asking about going to Kennywood, I said, “We’ll see.” I expected silence after this, but she came back with something.  Something that sent a shiver up my spine.

“How about this?” I stopped in my tracks as she said this. “If I’m a good girl, can I go to Kennywood?”

I was floored. My kid just tried to negotiate with me. As soon as those three words came out of her mouth I was transported through my entire life, all the way through high school. I was a negotiator.  I never remembered it, though, but it was true. My parents would tell me “Maybe” or “We’ll see” and I immediately shot back with, “How about this…” and then laid out my terms.

In high school, our senior class got to pick the song we would have played during the senior night halftime show for marching band. This was the song that the band would play while we walked up the field with our parents. There was an insane debate over two songs. Half of the seniors, me included, wanted, “You Could Be Mine” by Guns and Roses. The other half wanted, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye (To Yesterday)” by Boyz II Men. Remember, this was 1993 and we were still in the heyday of the Alex Vanderpool era.  It came down to a tie vote and the only person who had not voted was one of the drummers, who was one of the biggest proponents to disregarding authority. We thought we had it locked up. He surprised all of us by siding with the Boyz II Men voters. Not taking defeat likely, I went to our band director with the news. Then, I said, with sudden utter brilliance, “How about this?”

His eyebrows cocked to one side, “Go on.”

I spun this golden thread of bullshit about how we have to get onto the field before we do the senior night formation. Why not use that opportunity to show some flare and excitement. Then we bring it down for the actual calling out of names. He stroked his chin and nodded his head. “Fine.”

I had turned a loss into a tie and satisfied everyone’s wishes. We played both.

Snapping back to reality, I noticed my four year old standing there, wondering where I had gone. “I tell you what? You be a good girl and we’ll definitely put it on the list of things to do.”

Sensing that she had indeed met her equal, she said, “OK. If I’m a good girl, we’ll go soon.” And with that, she went on to bigger and better things involving her dinosaurs, a chair and the cat tree. I had dodged a huge bullet. I could tell that she knew I was against the ropes due to her sneak attack. I should think about sending her to Washington DC to settle the debt crisis. They wouldn’t stand a chance and we’d all be able to sleep at night thinking about our 401ks.

Till then, I am so screwed and it won’t be the government that has drained my savings. It will be my little negotiator with her insatiable need for all things  As Seen on TV.

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