Monday, November 28, 2011
The Art of Negotiation…also known as Popsicle Persuasion
Even though I’m a relatively young mom (26), and I’d still like to consider myself fashion-savvy and pretty hip, I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that children–especially multiple children–really have a way of deducting cool points. Back before I was married (and surely before I ever dreamed of having kids in the concrete sense), I would look at parents in various settings as they dealt with their misbehaving rugrats and think “that’ll never be me, and, even when I do procreate, my kids will never do that!” Ha! I wish I could go back to that precise moment in time when my size two know-it-all-self was thinking those judgemental thoughts and kick her right in her size two know-it-all butt…but I digress. It’s just, it’s easy to feel like you’ve got it all figured out when there’s no little angel just gunning to prove you wrong. And I feel like there are a few sure-fire ways that those on the “outside” (also known as people with zero little spawnlings, or, for our purposes, “non-parents”) have come to recognize those of us with young children…including, but certainly not limited to: a collection of spit up and snot on the shoulder of one’s shirt, a minivan littered with old sucker sticks, hard french fries and, most likely, at least one lost, partially milk-filled, moldy sippy cup under the seat, and the carrying of a “mom bag” (that massive purse that has everything inside from butt paste to peanut butter crackers that you think makes you look a little cooler than lugging a diaper bag–can we say ‘denial’?). Yes, all of those things point to parenthood, but none of those signs come close to what I’m going to hone in on today–the best way to spot a full-blown parent: our persuasion prowess. I’m talking nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty, put-a-used-car-dealer-who-also-successfully-sells-Amway to shame, negotiating skills. You see, I’ve found that the deduction of those aforementioned cool-points is to make room for a major leap in the art of dealing; the Lord taketh away…and the Lord giveth.
Just the other day I was trying to explain to my son (3.5) that it’s much easier to be fully potty-trained than it is to just go at will in his underwear and let the dog follow him around, but he’s apparently not convinced…or, more accurately, he’s just plain old unconcerned about the whole thing. So I came up with a brilliant idea: right before naptime I’d make him sit on the potty until he went and then we could avoid the whole spectacle of removing dirty underwear, cleaning poop off of the legs, feet, floor, and then rinsing underwear in the toilet (any day I don’t have to stick my hand in the toilet is considered a good day) etc. etc….I let him in on this little plan, and he seemed to be on board. He sat down, waited a minute, and then said, “OK, I went. I’m all done.” I looked (something else my teenage self never pictured doing). He’d successfully squeezed off a pebble.
“You need to go more. Let it all out, buddy.”
“OK, I’ll do one more.”
“No, just do it all. You’re here right now, just go.”
“I’ll do a piece and a half. That’s it.” A piece and a half??? Does he actually have that kind of control? Impressive. No. Focus, Ranae. You’ve got him where you want him. Just close the deal.
“Buddy, if you let it all out, I’ll give you a popsicle.” (Am I good or what?)
“”And we”ll dance around and have a party?”
“Um, yeah, OK. Sure.”
Another minute passed. “OK, I went five pieces and now I’m done.” Sure enough. Wow! I had done it! I had just waited it out and actually persuaded my child to go on the toilet. I was feeling pretty proud. We high fived, danced around, and ate popsicles. Then I tucked him into bed for his nap. Five minutes later, his head peeked around the stairway. “Hey Mom, I pooped again. I really had to do more. Can I have another popsicle?” Sebastian 1: Mommy: 0.
Then there was the shopping trip. It was two days before Thanksgiving and my husband (who goes straight from work to his master’s classes on Tuesday nights) called me to let me know he had just invited four more guests. Speeeeectacular. Actually, I was happy to have more people, but what I wasn’t so over-the-moon about that now I had to go out and get more groceries. In the dark. In the pouring rain. With three (3.5, 18 months, and 4 weeks) children. Who had not napped. It was sure to be magical. I loaded everyone up in the car and we headed to Aldi (naturally, since that was about the most difficult place I could think of to bring my little darlings at this late hour…what can I say? We love a bargain.)
For those of you unfamiliar with the wonder that is Aldi, it’s what I imagine a communist country would be like. It gives frugal a whole new look–to the point where you have to bring your own bags and pay a quarter for a cart. Like I said, it’s magical. I parked the van and left the kids while I ran up to the storefront to grab a cart. I was soaked by the time I had gotten back to the car, so I just threw my purse into the cart and then shoved the cart against the car while I jumped back in to unload everyone from their carseats. Sebastian and Gabriella had both taken off their socks and shoes, and Maks was screaming. While I was redressing the menagerie and singing (hollering) a lullaby, I heard car horns honking and then a mysterious lady appeared next to me in the van. An angel to deliver me? No, it turns out it was a little old lady who braved the pouring rain to tell me that my cart had rolled out into the parking lot and was blocking her vehicle. Aldi shoppers are hardcore.
I finally finagled Seb (3.5) and Gabs (18 months) into the basket of the cart and put Maks’ (4 weeks) carseat in the front and made a beeline for the store. As I was loading groceries in next to the children, I realized tha Gabriella was taste-testing everything within her reach. Immediately I started taking everything that was surrounding them out of the basket and began chucking it into the tray underneath the cart as quickly as possible…but by the time I got to the blocks of cheese, it was too late. They looked like they had had a run-in with a very large rodent. And the fact that I had taken away everything that my little girl was using to wreak havoc didn’t go over very well. She stood surfer-style and started yelling and reaching to rip as much off the shelves as she could before I moved the cart, and in the ensuing chaos Maks resumed his bawling all while Sebastian screeched “I’m being good, right? I’m not naughty, right?” over the melee. I was practically shoulder-to-shoulder with the other Thanksgiving shoppers and, not wanting to make any more of a scene that I already was, I started alternating threats with whispered promises of popsicles and dance-parties (just working’ those powers of persuasion…and are we seeing a trend?) if everyone would just chill out. I was honestly waiting for an announcement to come on over the loudspeaker that if a priest was in the building he needed to make his way to aisle six to perform an exorcism on the little girl gnawing through the cylinder of summer sausage, but then thankfully remembered that Aldi doesn’t even have any elevator muzak piping through the store…let alone a PA. A small miracle. I finished up shopping and made my way to the checkout, now more sure than ever of the reason baby goats are called kids. As I was frantically throwing my stuff up on the conveyor, Gabriella made one final attempt to vacate the cart and ended up traveling down the belt along with the cream cheese. I paid and wrangled her back in the cart, just in time to realize that I had forgotten my bags. Remember, Aldi doesn’t provide them. So me, the kids, and our cart full of loose groceries went back out into the downpour. I put everyone in their carseats first, and then shamelessly tossed the wet food onto the floor of the van. Happy flippin’ Thanksgiving. Gabriella 1: Mommy: 0.
Upon arrival back home, I stepped into a house that had been decorated with shredded diapers. The office door! Was it left open? Apparently, because the diaper genie had been raided by two dogs that made a gourmet dinner out of it. Molly couldn’t have been happier, she considers poop a delicacy. Hef had gone a different route, opting to chew through a brand new tube of Boudreau’s Butt Paste and then roll in it. And, I guess he also sampled a bit because he had barfed after his beauty treatment. Once again, it was time to bust out the popsicles and persuade the kiddos to hang tight and just watch (NOT assist) as I managed the mess. Thank the good Lord for frozen fruitjuice. And for Rug Doctors. Dogs 1: Mommy 0.
Ah, yes. I’m always learning new things as a mom. Like how to maintain composure. And negotiate. And that it might be wise to buy stock in popsicles. And life is never boring, I can say that without any shadow of a doubt. I love this craziness (sometimes I have to wait until I’ve had a few days to look back on it before I can love it) but I do love it. And I also love moments like right now: when all three of my beautiful children are sleeping soundly.
Finally. Mommy: 1.
I’m Ranae Seestadt; a pastor’s wife, the mom of four kiddos, and a woman who has fully embraced the adventure of flying by the seat of my non-mom jeans. I love Jesus, anytime my kids fall asleep in the car, and the occasional glass of chardonnay. I LOVE other ladies on the crazy rollercoaster of “momming” and I promise you’ll never hear me tell you that your kid is going to fall out of the grocery cart. I know you already know that. 😉 Rock on, sweet momma friends, because we’re all in this together. #laughingmomstrong