Friday, June 7, 2013

I Suck At Bluffing

I like to think I'm this strategic thinker. I've built a career around being logical, analytic, and measured. But when it comes to my personal life, relating to my family, it's like I'm a total dummy. I have no poker face. I cannot bluff. Any attempts to bluff are royally screwed up and backfire on me.

Here's a little gem that happened to us this week. We're on a bike ride/dog walk and the boys asked if we could take a different route home for a change. So being the flexible, fair, friendly mom that I am, I said "Sure thing, why not...except this is a busier road so I don't want you guys zooming ahead on your bikes like we do on the cul de sac. We have to stay all together, do you still want to go home that way?" They both agreed, "Yes Mom, we can do that."

A whopping two seconds later B1 was zooming off way ahead of us, so I called him back and reminded him of our deal. He lost it. Cried, yelled, said he was going back and going home the other way. I reminded him that there were two other people and two dogs and we had all agreed to go this way today and that we would all stay together. I said that if he couldn't ride nicely with us, then I guessed he couldn't ride his bike and would have to walk home while I carried it (because doesn't THAT sound like fun?). He didn't cooperate, so I picked up the bike and asked him to follow us.

I guess he had been saving some reserves because now he REALLY lost it. Screaming, crying, acting like I was skinning him alive (I may have wanted to a little, but gosh I'd never do it on a public street). And planting himself firmly in one spot and refusing to walk home.

Now...I have problems with conflict. I have problems when people don't take my advice. I know lots of ways to influence people and to manipulate behaviour, but it's so different when you're dealing with people acting rationally. When my adversary just goes bat crap crazy like that, and I'm in the heat of the moment, looking like a fool in public, and there's a clear standoff, I just have no idea what to do and typically end up saying something really stupid.

I told him that if he didn't come home with us now that he would be losing his Lego privileges for a week. Huh??? Ok, how does Lego even relate to the battle at hand? Who was talking about Lego? And, a whole WEEK? Um, isn't that a little much? Not to mention - Lego is a most excellent Shut Up Toy. Taking it away for a week really only punishes me.

See what I mean? Dummy. Obviously I was hoping he would agree that was a stupid consequence and way too extreme and not worth it, and he'd decide to go along with me. Clearly my not-yet-five-year-old will outperform me in Vegas, because he decided to call my bluff. He's still not coming home with us.

Shit. What do I do now? Ok, a week of losing his prized possession wasn't motivating enough, how about we double that - TWO weeks of no Lego! WHAT? What am I saying? This is taking stupid to a whole new level! It doesn't make sense! It's way too harsh! But - I'm committed now. I can't take it back. I have to follow through on this stupid, unrelated, excessive consequence. Lego gone for two stinking weeks. And he's STILL not coming.

I must have been more convincing after that - only had to ask if he wanted to make it three weeks while starting to walk away (let's not consider that it was actually the walking away that did the trick, I'm already feeling foolish enough, but suffice it to say I'll probably be trying that first next time).

So we made it home. And I dutifully put away the Lego per the terms of his sentence. I'm not really sure how I'm going to survive two weeks of not having Lego available to bring down the volume level around here. I'm going to need to devise some sort of parole plan to knock down the sentence for good behaviour or something.

Obviously I need a trip to Vegas. A lesson in poker strategy, focusing heavily on bluffing, is clearly in order for me.

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