The Art of Negotiation

negotiation

Every night our 2-1/2 y/o gets put into bed at 7PM. Five minutes after my husband and leave the room she starts with her negotiations:

 

“Mommy, I want drink!”

“Daddy, I need potty!”

“Heyyyyyy, I need kiss!”

“I want baby in bed.” (Whatever stuff animal or doll she requires that night)

“I need say bye to Titan!” (Titan is our dog)

“I want hug.”

Her demands vary in the degree of her desire and willingness to stay up. These negotiations don’t last more than 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes they are ingenious. I am blown away at her ability to practice voicing her wants and needs. Kudos to the little one. Yesterday afternoon she used a new one.

We were on our way back home from seeing friends. She had not had a nap. So, as we were getting closer to the house I said, “Kali bug, when we get home you have to take your nap.” She immediately whined, “No way!” I said, “Yeah!” She stayed quiet for a few seconds.

“Mommy is my best friend.”

“Aw, that’s so sweet. Thank you! You are my best friend too.”

“Mommy, no nap to Kali.”

“Yeah…still you are getting a nap and now even more because I am your best friend. This is even a better reason for napping. Best friends get cranky and then mean, and then no more best friends. We need to rest. You understand?”

“Oh, yeah. No more cranky. And mommy and Kali bestest friend?” She questioned it so sweet.

“Yeap….happy rested best friends!”

She took her nap without a word. I give her an immense amount of credit for her ability to give it a fighting chance to get out of doing things. She’s strengthening her awareness, her argumentative gene, preparing it for the future. Who knows, she may become an attorney fighting for Humanitarian Rights because the way she tries to come up with questions and answers at this age is remarkable.

The art of negotiation begins the moment we are born. We learn that when we are hungry, wet, or need attention we cry. We scream. Then we stop until the next time that we need what we need. We are taught by our environment how to challenge the negotiations. We learn our parents’ behaviors and reactions. And, this is where we learn the necessity to be heard. We are conditioned that if we cry or scream we can be heard. Some folks spend the rest of their lives screaming for attention. Others, are heard with the softest whisper. How our parents reacted and conditioned behaviors becomes the subconscious habits of our communication skills.

Answering a child all the time,”Because I say so,” doesn’t work anymore. It’s sometimes a demeaning authoritative behavior. I want to know the why’s, what’s and how’s…and so do children. I used to say this all the time with my other 6 kids. This little one is teaching me that I need to be mindful of my reactions and behaviors. Negotiation is a two way street. I am not going to sit there and argue with a two year old, but I am going to try and make her aware of why I have made the decision. Because they understand. Never underestimate a child. They know when you are full of crap and when you are being totally real. They are born with a lie detector mechanism that lets them know you aren’t being authentic in your answers and actions.  Also, a child deserves the same attention that you would give an adult. They need to know that they matter.

Years ago I watched the famous novelist, Toni Morrison, in an interview with Oprah.  She was sharing how she wrote her first novel long hand on a notebook.  She had her children’s snot on pages, along with food stains and even some small amount of vomit. She learned, as her creativity was shooting from all directions, that she needed to pay attention to her kids.  At one specific moment she looked up and recognized that she needed to be there with whatever was going on. Her writing had to wait till they didn’t require her energy, either when they slept or went to school.  She needed to always be mindful to answering them with truth and authenticity.  I have never forgotten this interview, especially now with another young child.  I am reminded that just being in her presence is not enough at times.  She requires eye-to-eye contact and attention.  I understand because, I too, require it from my loved ones.

We grow up understanding the art of negotiations, compromises, arbitration, and mediation. There are folks walking around not being heard, because since they were children they weren’t regarded. (Who remembers that old comment: Children are meant to be seen and not heard?) There are others going around harassing the world with their negativity and illogical disposition because they were catered to their every whim and now assume the world owes them everything.

Be mindful and conscious of your negotiations and how you act and react to the world around you. Partake openly and curiously with others. Ask questions. Give answers. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions in a loving and compassionate way. Bulldozing is not the answer. Manipulation is disturbing and disgusting as well. You have been given the ability, as a divine human being, to use your voice as a tool to make life better for others. Be aware of your tone, your language, and your energy. You are magnificent and the less ego you use to magnify your intentions, the louder you are heard. Silence is also the wisest teacher in your world! Always act accordingly whether it’s through actions or loving words. Your strength always shows through your energy.

Gifts of Love

tutus

I have been an avid student of all my children. Each one has taught me something I didn’t know I had in me, imagined I could do, would want to do, and so much more. My middle daughter’s mental challenges changed me. Her bipolar disorder also enriched my perceptions. I have been turned upside down, right-side up, yet enlightened in ways I can never express. Living with mental illness is a day to day wave and all you can do is surf it without restraints or expectations. When she arrived into my life at the age of 9 from Romania, I knew my life would never be the same. I have witnessed tenacity, perseverance, disorder, disarrangement, and complexity in myself. Our mirrors have reflected personal issues that I wouldn’t have addressed at other times in my life. I have been pushed to learn things of the human spirit I didn’t even know existed. She has taught me the meaning of unconditional love, surrendering, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and patience. I am not a patient person and she has been the button-pusher of constant reminding how much I can tolerate. I am always shocked by how much I can endure and where the lines are drawn.

My daughter, in her struggle for understanding while living with severe anger and mental disorders, has gifted me with the most precious experience of all. She has given me a child, my granddaughter, to raise again as a child of my own. I hope this seventh child will make the rest of this journey magical. This little girl has reshaped my reality. She has allowed me to throw all plans out the door. My daughter is very present inside of this little girl and I marvel at the preciousness of another generation teaching me more about life and myself. I am aware at this love that I wasn’t expecting in this time in middle years.

The mind is our most priceless commodity. It creates, modifies, regenerates, releases, and forces us to see past the boundaries of time and space. My daughter has taught me to love fiercely in a way that I didn’t know was available. She is not capable of understanding many of the issues that created the loss of permanency for raising her daughter. Her dissociative identity disorder does not permit her mind to see normalcy and stability. She will forever be stuck at 13 years of age. The older she gets the more noticeable it becomes. But, she’s taught me to see the exceptions to all the rules.

Recently while I held this two year old in my lap I told her what I say every day, “I love you, sweetheart.” She immediately responded as a matter of fact, “I know.”

My husband and I laughed out loud and she returned the giggles in exaggerated form. She has brought tremendous light into our home. I am grateful for this journey. I never imagined it in a million years. There are days I don’t think I will survive another childhood but then love is seen through the eyes of a sweet baby girl and I know that God is staring right at me. Who else is gonna join me to dance with tutus and tiaras? Who else will sit and listen to fairy tales and stories of unicorns and wizards? This journey is a pure gift of love!

Angel Tears

angel tears

I get home from work and begin making dinner when my 20-year-old daughter informs me that there is a leak in the living room. I go into the living room and she explains that while waiting for her laundry to be done that she was sitting watching television when two drops of water fell from the ceiling. I ask her if maybe it was our Great Dane drooling on her arm. She laughs and says, “No, Mom! The dog was on the floor asleep. You seriously think I wouldn’t notice it was the dog?”

“Okay, turn on the lights and show me where you were sitting.” I stand in the middle of the room searching for water stains. I see nothing on the ceiling. It’s been raining non-stop and I don’t see any sign of leaking anywhere, thank God.

“Mom, I swear! It was two drops right here on my arm.” She extends her arm as if hours later the water marks were still tattooed on her skin.

I walk away, stop and turn. “Baby, you know angels are known to shed tears that fall from the heavens.” I say this completely in truth without sarcasm. I mean…I said it without an ounce of logical thought processing. To me it was a rational explanation.

She looks at me…wearing a look of confusion and sarcasm and says, “Mom! You do know I am not six anymore?”

I turn around and go back to making dinner. As I said the comment I didn’t realize how truly juvenile and exaggerated it sounded. I was in my moment! I gave an answer without filtering it…without truly thinking about how ridiculous it sounded because, to be honest, I believe in the magic of angels. I could have said it was the unicorn urinating as it was flying above her. I would not have been surprised if that came out of my mouth as well. I live in a constant state of awesomeness while things happen that have no logical explanation. And, in that world I don’t think before I speak!

We become what we believe. We believe in the power of endless possibilities and therefore anything is possible in the world. Why not angel tears? Why not a unicorn kiss? Why not fairy dust sliding down her arm? Why not? In a world governed by rationale and preconceived notions why not believe in the unbelievable? Why are children the only ones who believe? Perhaps because they haven’t been taught to believe otherwise. You don’t need proof…you just need to believe. Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. Things do manifest from the most unusual of places just to get our attention. It’s magical, mystical and pure enchantment!