Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Negotiations

Two major triumphs in the diplomacy and negotiations field have taken place in our house this week. I'm surprised that we haven't made international headlines - "Peace Talks Succeed" - that would be a novel one. Most importantly of all, these delicate negotiations have been conducted entirely between the children, with no, or almost no, adult intervention.


The first episode was triggered by the unfortunate discovery by Dad, on arriving home, of his magnetic telescopic wotzit, in two pieces (it is supposed to be just one entire piece!) behind the front door. A summons to the children produced no-one owning up to the crime, they being naturally inclined to blame it on the child who was not there to defend himself, our farm employee's son. Stalemate was reached with the edict "no pocket money until I hear what happened" pronounced in a stern voice.

A couple of days later this had faded into the background of their memories. Pocket money was mentioned at lunch. I thought this a good time for a reminder.
"Maybe you had better all talk to each other, while R is here and find out what happened to that wotzit of Dad's, then when he comes home you can tell him what happened and say sorry...I don't want to be there, you guys just sort it out yourselves. "
I started clearing the lunch table and overheard my six year old saying,
" OK, let's have a meeting."

They get a small table and four chairs out and solemnly sit around it. I try to keep out of the way and leave them to it, though keeping my ears peeled out of pure curiosity and motherly nosiness. Various hypotheses are put forward as to how this accident could have happened, though with no-one admitting responsibility. Eventually, while I was on the loo, youngest comes galloping through:
"Mum, we think someone might have poked it under the door, then someone else could have opened the door and it broke.."
Impressed with the results of the meeting so far, I sent them back to the table to work out who might be the person that needs to say sorry to Dad. No-one ever actually owned up to the crime - but my six year old did go of her own accord to Dad the next morning, to tell him their conclusions and say sorry. Pocket money was thenceforth restored.


The second feat of negotiations was brought on by flower fairies - these cute felt finger puppets were presents from the German students we've been hosting for our school. The children were given the one with the long yellow hair when our guests arrived. One finger puppet, three children...! That sharing hurdle was successfully crossed, then came the water ditch - all the children at my son's school were given their own flower fairy puppet, my son choosing the strawberry one. Now we had two puppets between three children - aaaagh far worse than one between three! WIth a burst of quick thinking on my part I found that there had been one left over, after they all had been given out, and I begged it for the last child.

Silly of me. Now the problem was increased a hundredfold. We now have one two-day-old fairy and two brand new, never been played with fairies. Youngest, who had really wanted the golden haired angel/fairy for her own, now could see that the new one was far more desirable and ditto six-year old daughter. Major impasse and breakdown of the happy home ensued.

I came over the heavy Mum.
"No-one will have those fairies until you have sorted it out in a way that you are both happy with."
Refusal to give up new fairy.
"Or I will take that fairy back to the school and say that my children don't deserve it, please give it to another child."

For the rest of the afternoon the two fairies sat side by side on the kitchen counter. Every now and then one of the girls would sidle up to them and gaze. Eventually my six-year-old negotiator opens the talks:
"You want the yellow haired one really don't you"
"No"

I leave the room as this repeats ad infinitum. I am itching to intervene with my proposal that they both share both of them. A quarter of an hour later, they come dancing through all smiles. Youngest with the golden haired fairy, my six year old with the one they both wanted. They had agreed on this with the proviso that they would each let the other one play with their fairy, as long as they give it back when asked.

Miracle of miracles, I hear you murmur, but lest I sound too smug, let me reassure you that on other fronts, major strong arm tactics have been reported, so though the troops are making progress, I still can't retire from the field just yet.

A further incident has marred our transitory perfect peace. Tonight Dad's computer headset was found broken in two places......again no-one knew a thing about it, so tomorrow could be another heavy day at the negotiation table, with pocket money at stake again, this time they get to pay for the replacement!

5 comments:

  1. beautiful summit results! it amazes me how quick children are to lie/exagerate... even here with just one, she blames it on the imaginary friend. heehee... I love your approach of letting them work it out.

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  2. I like your letting them work it out method. I find sometimes the more involved I get, the worse the bickering gets.

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  3. kit you are a genius! A wonderful mom too!!

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  4. I loved reading this...yes Kit...you have the mothering in the 'hood down quite well. If only the UN could be officiated by moms like you! :)

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  5. Good parenting tips, Kit! I'm going to run with that next time.

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Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!