Saturday, July 31, 2010


Luke & Daddy's Fourth Year

I thought I was prepared. Harvard trained in negotiation and wrangler of concession at work, I brought a hardened game to the elementary work of arguing with a four year old. Hell, when I was in business school, controversy emerged over the training of Harvard students in negotiating tactics. The media reported on overly privileged Harvard vampires being armed to “take advantage of the rest of us!” Yet, the very book that trained us, Getting to Yes, best describes your instinctual ability to crumble my balsa wood defenses.

Our duels always begin with an unacceptable Lukie request. “Can I have a lollypop?” moments before dinner. “Can I drive?” Jeez, how old are you? “Can I have a sip of your coke?” When this happens, I immediately brace myself for the inevitable faceoff, an ordeal that will pound my willpower. Like any good business school student, I have an acronym for your “Getting to Yes” strategy: FRIPing.

Small lies are effective tactics for a four year old. Then again sometimes not. “Daddy, I finished by broccoli. Can I have a cookie?” when sitting in front of a full portion of broccoli.

Your mind numbing repetition of the “ask” is torture. Being stuck in the car listening to “Can we go to Palisades Pizza? Can we go to Palisades Pizza? Can we go to Palisades Pizza?” makes me want to cry right now.

Information Asymmetry
A twist on the tried and true “ask the other parent” strategy, you actually falsify approvals and present them to an unsuspecting adult. This Machiavellian approach frequently lands me in trouble!

A cousin of repetition, you adhere to Churchill’s adage: “Never, never, never, never give up.” You chip away concrete by staying on message and upping the emotional ante. Raising volume and intensity bends your opponent to snap.

Effective is the word I would use describe your FRIP strategy. Nonetheless, I have developed countermeasures. I call my approach FABY and I would put it up against any child rearing book out there.

Running away from the problem is a highly underrated tactic. A couple earplugs, a closed door and a pillow and I can zone out any tantrum.

Ask Mom
Also called punting. I like this approach if I am on a separate floor from Rachel otherwise I wind up retreating to a more extreme version of Flight ... out of the house.

Frequently this involves trading one evil for another. Often times I try to downgrade the evil or at least put it on a time frame when I'm not around.

With you, intimidation is a weak bluff as you tend to call this behavior with louder, more extreme screaming. Nonetheless, its a good way to attract attention and get your mom to take over.

As you can imagine, we have very rich interactions these days. Yet, your classic lines are solo and come out of the blue. When Mom and you were in a landing airplane this quarter, you screamed, "We're going to crash!" at the top of your lungs. The possibility of a crash is exciting and fun to an immortal four year old; the rest of the plane was less pleased.

Happy Birthday Luke! We celebrated your birthday in Boulder, CO this year with several members of Rachel's family. I bought you a Lightening McQueen pinata that proved nearly impossible to bust open!