Sunday, February 1, 2015

Negotiations

You never stop having opinions on what your kids should do, no matter how old they are. Why would you? If you can generate an idea about how the guy in front of you should drive or the point guard on TV should drive to the basket, your cup of advice for your kids will surely floweth over.

The only thing that changes is how much they have to listen.

This is how it tends to go for Mark or I with our adult kids.

Parent: Bar-hopping is a terrible idea, and looking for a good band sounds sketchy. Besides, you hate cover charges. Why not just go to that concert?
25-year-old: Yeah. Thanks. (leaves) 
And that's what it's like to have absolutely no negotiating power, folks.

They have their own cars, phones, opinions and friends and they're going to make their own mistakes. Or not. The hundreds of hours we parents spend analyzing our kids lives and generating "if only's" is basically wasted.

Except on the youngest two. They are still within our grasp and the negotiations are more of a volley.

Parent:  Where's the bonfire? Who's driving? The roads are icing after midnight, let's make that your curfew.
18-year-old: (rolls eyes but answers questions and agrees to curfew) Can I have money for the  diner after?
Parent: How 'bout you clean the fridge. I'll pay you for that.
Kid: The fridge is gross.  How 'bout I clean your car instead.
Deal.   
Which is how we ended up promising our 13-year-old a treadmill this week.

We were wrangling over high school electives during a dinner out and I was pushing hard for band because I love her on drums but she wanted to take a shop class instead and there's nothing wrong with that, of course. But I still wanted her in an afterschool activity, and I had leverage because we have to sign the form so I pushed for cross country if she doesn't do band, and she said okay.

If we got the treadmill. By April. She's a softball player, not a runner, so she needs prep time.

Good negotiations end the moment both sides think they've got a "win" so although I countered with "how 'bout we go to the Y every day instead," she rejected that with "I hate the Y" and we went back to the agreement on the treadmill, Her dad and I shook on it and she recorded the deal with a voice memo on her phone.


Which leaves me wondering for the hundredth or so time about a home gym. I want one, Mark wants one, our kids have always wanted one, and now we almost have room. But no one needs a gym in order to run, or in my case walk, and filling up our house with stuff as our kids move out and on with their lives is not a way to downsize into the smaller house we imagine. There's a blog I read last night that is way smarter than me about this trap by Madeline Somerville here.

But the deal is made, exercise is good and if I can buy a treadmill no one's using rather than a new one, I'm not de-greening the planet, though I'm also not getting a warranty or helping the economy. So maybe I'll settle for de-cluttering the space to fit it.

I still need advice, though, on what makes a home gym (or even just a treadmill) used rather than ignored. Because the deal was not that our daughter actually run on the thing, mind you.

Negotiations. The devil's in the damned details.

Love, Lisa

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