DS1 learned from quite a young age the finer points of negotiation. To be specific, he wasn’t much past 3 before he’d learned to present what he wanted in terms of how it benefits the person he’s hoping to convince to comply with his wishes. The earliest example I recall of this was soon after we moved into our house. He still had issues with waking up in the night. At the time, the twins were babies so adding a third child to the “getting up in the night” mix was threatening to sleep-deprive me straight into the looney bin. Perceptive child that he was, he picked up on the fact that I prayed for more sleep each night (we can go ahead and reasonably assume here that I did not suffer my sleep deprivation with much patience and virtue and that, in fact, he would not have needed to be particularly perceptive to realize I really strongly preferred my offspring to remain sleeping).
He was also a master of bedtime stall tactics. As every parent knows, “I’m hungry” is easily a top 3 contender in that category. Of course, it works because it gets us between the rock of not wanting to be the sucker who falls for the stall and the hard place of valuing uninterrupted sleep and wanting to hedge our bets on that by making sure they are not, in fact, hungry.
DS1, I’m reasonably sure, understood that in his own 3 y.o. way one night when he chose to employ the hungry stall. The solution I’d come up with was to give him something that would fill his tummy but a) didn’t create any work for me – i.e. making something and b) more importantly, he would eat but didn’t like too much so as to encourage repeat performances.
So, this night I told him he could have some of the whole grain bread that is quite filling but since we were just interested in filling his tummy, he didn’t need any honey butter on it (the way he liked to eat it). His response? “You know what Mommy? I knew this first kid* who had bread with (add dramatic 3 year old emphasis there) butter on it before he went to bed and he slept for a WHOLE WEEK!”
* he used to confuse “one” with “first”.
Then there was the time, when he was 4.5 I think, that we were at a camp by a lake with my family. My sister had made him some bubble stuff and gave him this thing that made huge bubbles. Of course, before long he was out of bubble stuff so he went off to find my sister. She was in the dining room indulging in that most excellent pastime drinking coffee and talking. He asks her if she’ll come outside with him and make some more. She tells him she’ll come when she’s done her coffee. He replies “Auntie X, you know what I think? I think when you’re done making the bubble stuff you’re going to be so thirsty from all that work you’re going to wish you had some coffee left to drink.” Which, of course, was his way of saying he wanted her to come right now, not in a few minutes. (It would seem he inherited my patience. Or, more specifically, lack of).
Anyway, he reminded me of this just now when he walked my office in and tried to pull another one on me. We recently got a wii. The boys had a great time with it and were happy with that. But I hadn’t played it. At least until earlier tonight when DS1 showed me how to do the boxing. Well, I got 4 pts. Then he showed me how to do it and got 16. I think he enjoyed kicking my butt in that way. So, all evening he’s asking me if I’m going to play later, when I’m going to play etc. Just generally pestering me. It should be noted that he knows I’ve been, more or less, on a diet / exercise thing for the last year + . So, he’s on his way to shower when he comes in here after first going into the bathroom and taking off his shirt to shower. He says “You know what, I think that boxing took some fat off my tummy. No really, I just looked in the mirror and my tummy looks smaller than it did before.” I’m reasonably certain that he does not, in fact, think he lost any fat off his tummy in the past hour. He certainly does know which buttons to push, though. I’ll give him that. I think this is the sort of stuff that makes people – friends and strangers alike – frequently comment to the effect of him making a fine lawyer some day. Fortunately, he’s got his heart set on being a scientist. Otherwise, I envision a law career with zillions of “Objection! Badgering the witness” statements.