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Jewish Journal

Motherhood 101: The Art of Negotiation

by Ilana Angel

December 12, 2013 | 8:05 am

I like to think I am a good negotiator, especially when it comes to my son. I have mastered the “You Do This, I’ll Let You Do That”, technique. It really is an art, requires discipline, focus, and a straight face. I have long been admired by family and friends for my negotiations as a mother, and have even been congratulated by my son after particularly good negotiations.

Last night started off innocently enough, but by the end of the evening I was forced to admit I was no longer the top negotiator in my home. My delightful, charming, innocent son not only walked all over me, but I was not even clear on what he was doing until it was over and he had negotiated the best possible deal for himself. It is a new era in my home. Game on son!

My boy is 17 years old, a senior in high school, applying to college, preparing to leave home for the first time, and if I ever get scared or worried about whether he is going to be okay on his own in the big bad world, I will simply need to remember what he managed to pull off last night and I will be reminded that I have raised a genius and Momma need not worry.

The topic of negotiation was a curfew time this weekend. With the holiday season upon us, I worry about my kid driving at night. There are a lot of drunks on the road and I am a nervous mother to begin with when it comes to his driving. Not because he is not a great driver, but because of the other people on the road. This topic is discussed often in our home.

He asked to come home later on Friday night. I said no. He told me I was pretty and funny, then asked again in a slightly different way. I said no in the exact same way. He then told me my hair was beautiful and I was a great cook. I told him I loved him more than anything in the world, then told him no again. He gave up and the case was closed. Or so I thought.

He returned with an offer to make me a cup of tea. Nice touch. He then took me on a trip down memory lane. He spun gold as he spoke of his childhood. He reminded me of things we had done together, and moments of pride I felt when he accomplished things both simple and grand. I was unaware of what was happening and before I knew it he had closed the deal in a big way.

He not only got his curfew extended, but he negotiated some money, and permission to be out on Saturday night too. One could argue that I am off my game due to being an emotional wreck about his looming departure to university. One could even suggest I’ve lost the magic due to exhaustion because I have not been sleeping well. Either way I crumbled quickly.

As parents our goal is to provide a better life for our children. We want the road to be smoother for them than it was for us. I want my son to always believe in himself, chase his dreams, and not put up with crap from anyone. He is the master of his own fate and when he is unable to believe in himself, I will believe enough for both of us. In losing this negotiation, I won.

My son showed me he was capable of taking care of himself. He did not lie, cheat, or steal. He simply presented his case, using just the right amount of facts and emotional blackmail. He had me not only changing my mind, but convinced the change was all my idea. Well played my son. Well played. I have raised a remarkable human being and he is ready to tackle the world.

My weekend will now be spent staying up and waiting for him to get home safely. I will try to limit the times I call to check in and text to get an update. Instead I will simply bask in the glory of the boy I have raised and try to see him as a young man, not a baby in diapers who needs me for everything. No promises I can do it, but I am trying and keeping the faith.

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