Thursday, August 6, 2009

lets make a deal

One of the many lessons I've learned about parenthood is that it makes you into the ultimate negotiator. I've gotten a taste of this, being a teacher, and constant negotiating my students try to suck me into...That's different, the trick there is to make them THINK you're negotiating with them, but really you're discretely bending them to your will. When you have a child of your own, you find that your marriage bed has turned into conference-room showdowns worthy of Donald Trump.

Step-by-step Parent Negotiating 101:
1. "Is that the baby?" Of course it's the baby. Your baby monitor is not malfunctioning... (howev in certain neighborhoods I've heard the question is "Is that OUR baby?") You start with this tactic hoping your spouse will leap from the bed and take care of your offspring. It's passive-aggressive, rarely works, and is basically used to simply wake your spouse and initiate negotiating sequence.
2. "I think it's your turn. I went last time." This maybe works 60% of the time. It really depends on how sleepy your spouse is. Can you convince them that you actually left your king-sized palatte of comfort to change a diaper or pop a binkie back in, when REALLY you haven't left bed all night? This line should only be used by the honest spouse. Should the lying spouse get away with this ploy, they should do penance by offering a massage or putting on the coffee without being asked.
3. "NO, NO you didn't, I did." Hopefully your child is simply just practicing talking and not wailing if you pull this line. For some reason we all get sucked into the argument stage of negotiations, and it's really just a waste of everyone's time. At this point one spouse, usually the female, will slug out of bed to check on the baby. The most advanced female will then use this seeming loss as a victory later when she pulls out the martyr card. If you're feeling patient, this is recommended.
4. "If you go check on the baby, I will ______." Before children, this blank might have been completed by a sexual favor. After children, not so much. Other things seem MUCH more valuable. In our house it is "I'll go get you Braums tomorrow", "I'll take care of him tomorrow", "I'll vacuum", etc.
5. When both parties are satisfied with their end of the bargain, when the price is JUST right, that's when the baby will get attention. If the spouse who agrees to check on the baby is VERY lucky the baby will have soothed himself back to sleep by this point. If the spouse who agreed to check on the baby actually has to do some work, their negotiations are now with a higher power. "Please let this only take a minute", "Please God, say he isn't hungry", "His diaper is wet, please let the mess only be in the diaper", etc.

This negotiating does make the marriage stronger. One would think "Oh, no I don't want to bargain with my spouse, that's not what marriage is all about." Nay, nay, friends. Knowing what your spouse's ultimate price is can be very valuable. You just gotta learn how to work it. Just remember, you can always get some sleep when they're old enough for slumber parties. (At which point you will have perfected your negotiating to convince the neighbors that it's THEIR turn!)

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