Some days I just roll with it. It’s our normal, after all. And some days, I stop and realize just how … different …. my kid is.
Today was one of those days. We were starting vision therapy (apparently the Engineer has some major tracking difficulties) and the therapist was explaining what he needed to work on. The Engineer thought it was too much work. Especially the part we’re supposed to do at home. So he started trying to negotiate his way out of the work!
She stopped and looked at him about 30 minutes into the appointment and told him he was so smart! He looked at her in confusion and she repeated it. He smiled, and I promptly squashed him a bit by telling him that hard work and being polite will help him far more in this situation than smart.
The whole conversation got me thinking. Doesn’t every family negotiate over who gets what color plate at dinner? I thought everyone had to count birthday presents and make sure each kid gets the same number because they WILL remember “she got more presents than I did!” even if it’s halfway around the year later? Doesn’t everyone balance on the fine line of “fair” and “equal?”
Maybe we’re the only ones who have to deal with this. It’s like living with a crocodile – always poised for the attack. No matter how trivial the situation, we have to negotiate it with my oldest. Even something as simple as a stop at a store comes with a full set of strictly defined parameters and give and take. We have to specify everything or he takes advantage of the loopholes. “You didn’t tell me to stay in the movie theatre!”
Living life with a negotiator is complex. Nothing is simple. Everything is exhausting and over-analyzed and discussed in triplicate. Because if you keep asking, they might just forget and say something different! (That strategy often backfires because I get frustrated and start saying “no!”)
One day, I want to be able to say “we’re doing XYZ” and the kids just do it instead of promptly coming back with “I don’t want to do that, can we do QRS instead?” Or read a few chapters of a book together without hearing “can we read 2 more? 1 more? A few more pages?”
One day of pleasant agreement instead of intense negotiations. It would be lovely. I swear, this kid has a law career ahead of him and he’s practicing on me.
Note: some of my readers are probably thinking “you’re the parent, just tell him to do it.” It’s not quite that simple. There’s no easy way to force a kid to obey you if they decide they don’t have to. Especially if they have very few motivators. The Engineer requires a logic and reasoning in order to obey a request – it has to make sense to him. He also has to feel some level of control or his anxiety spikes. Parenting him is like riding a rollercoaster of power struggles, and it’s extremely challenging.