The Joy of…. Negotiation?

So today began like any other ordinary summer day. Well, okay, maybe not quite. I’m beginning to shift the kids’ sleep schedules back after a long weekend of late nights and agitated days, so they were both awake by 8:30am and ready for breakfast, sliding right into a schedule-less day of Wii gameplay soon after. I, on the other hand, had a laundry list of things I wanted to get done today, not the least of which involved driving around to multiple locations.

For once in my organized, unstructured life I got a decent night’s sleep myself… Ava’s father took over nighttime blood glucose testing until 1am, so that left me with several hours of uninterrupted sleep. And I woke up feeling rested – a golden moment in an otherwise dark cloud of sleep deprivation – jumped (yes, I JUMPED!!) out of bed and threw on my running clothes, my iPod and, this time, my can of pepper spray should I meet up with one of the neighborhood dogs who feels compelled to defend both sides of the street in front of his house. Stellar start to the day. My first run since my 5k ten days ago, and it went well. My pace was good, my breathing was even and unlabored. No attack dogs or whole roadkill bodies to vault over.

The rest of my plans today included donations for building a community library in our immediate area, getting gas (my favorite thing!) and driving to the library we currently use, to renew and return books for the summer reading program. AS IF my kids are actually reading anything other than the score on Super Smash Bros. Owen doesn’t care about the prizes anymore. Ava, on the other hand, wanted her prize tickets NOW, even though she failed to read any of the previous books cover to cover. My explanation of making a more concerted effort to reap the “rewards” of reading fell on deaf ears. “I want them NOW.” Time to test! I felt a low coming on. And, indeed, Ava needed some sugar. Lollipop, then off to our next stop – the creme de la creme – Game Stop.

The kids and I gathered a pile of old video games to trade in; they both wanted a new DS game. I explained, very clearly, that the credit we got had to EQUAL two DS games…
otherwise, they had to choose ONE Wii or PS3 game for the family. I told them, in English, that I was not spending one dime of my own money for any more games. Or, I. Am. NOT. Opening. My. Wallet.

So we get there, and the gentleman who works the store tallies up our trade-in and tries to talk me into a PowerUp Card for $13 that will offer me more savings throughout the year. Strike 1! I already am defensive about the allusion to opening my wallet. Both kids run up to me, each with a DS game in hand. Remarkably similar games. I reminded them of what I said before we got there.

“But it’s only $25!” Yes Owen, YOURS is “only” $25. How much is yours, Ava?
“Hers is only $25 too.”
“I want it,” whines the princess of injustice.

Meanwhile, the total trade-in we received was….. drum roll please….. $26. Well, I was sorry to tell them again, it looks like we will have to choose a Wii game we can all play. This was where it got interesting. Ava clutched her game tighter to her chest, and Owen continued to argue with me about how “they” could work it out. Or, how Ava could use her own money to pay for it. Money, by the way, she not only didn’t bring with her but money she refused to part with. Each of them insisted on their own way. So, the red-eyed evil witch reminded them of “the deal.” And they still insisted on their own way. I stood there and told them it’s ONE game, or NO game. I warned them. I threatened them. They stood their ground.

SO, I took the credit. And WALKED OUT. Both of them trailing me, but the door hadn’t closed behind us when Owen said to me, “what’s WRONG with you?” within earshot of the man behind the counter. Silently I walked on, until the door fully closed, and then I turned to Owen and lit into him like a wasp without a nest. Ava stood indignant, and the Prince of injustice burst into tears of frustration at how unfair and mean I am. How I never listen to him. Now there’s an accusation. The proverbial pot calling the kettle black. Um, “one game for the family” deal… HELLO!

More whining, disrespectful accusations and cries for the injustice of it all. Owen, God bless him, takes after his mother a little too much. He doesn’t know when to, excuse the expression, shut up. Always yapping, and always having to get the last word in. So he’s going on in the backseat and then he said it. He said he’s tired of being bullied. So, I pulled over, turned around and asked him to tell me just who is bullying him. Well, he didn’t mean it. Too late, I tell him, and launch into my own tirade about showing respect to your parents, and how he’s now had a glimpse of adulthood where you have to juggle the priorities of wants versus needs. How bills get paid first, so you have running water, electricity to play your gad-dang video games, heat in the winter and food on your table and a roof over it with a bed to sleep in. (!!!) How NOBODY has extra money to spend right now, and how the cost of gas has many people deciding how far they want to drive every day.

The silence in the backseat was deafening. Well, they probably heard none of it, really. When we got back to the house, the bickering began until an all-out war ensued over who had rights to occupy the living room. But they each ate lunch in silence, and halfway through Ava went to grab a granola bar and when she discovered it was the last one, offered it to her brother. OMG.
Did hell freeze over?? And he took it, with a polite “thank you.”

Two hours later, they had “negotiated” that Ava would pay a 20, a 5 and a 1 for her game and Owen would use the credit for his. Nice, I said. They hatched a truce, but apparently the offer was only good today.

“Now can we go to Game Stop?”

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