Friday, June 25, 2010

Art of Persuasion

I estimate that I spend about 21%  of my waking hours persuading my children to do things.

If there is anything that prepared me for motherhood, it's three years in law school and fifteen years of practicing law before I released any progeny into the world.  All the legal training (which is really trying to persuade some one of something), plus two million odd debates I had with my parents growing up (e.g. persuading them to let me go to debating camp), really prepared me for persuading my children to do stuff.

In the last week I have spent a lot of time trying to get Sydney to lift her scatological embargo (previously known as bum sparkle see here is you're confused). 

On Sunday, I was persuading Jackson that he wanted to stop making his Lego movie and come to Father's Day celebrations at his auntie's. 

Most of last week was spent persuading Jackson to go to an appointment yesterday that he did not want to go to.

I think I have earned my persuasion badge many times over.  It takes a delicate mix of logic, compassion, understanding, empathy, love, begging, bribery, threats, guilt and the mean Mommy voice to persuade the seemingly unpersuadable.

It's one of the few things I have figured out about motherhood.

Tuesday brought new challenges.

Sydney had her dress rehearsal for her dance year end performance..  You may recall she has expressed enormous fears reticence about performing in front of a lot of people.  She says she has stage fright. I think she can have remarkable stage presence. It does, apparently, make her uncomfortable. At this point, I consider us committed to the year end show.  She has seemed, while not excited about it, willing to see this thing through. We have already agreed that this will be the last year for dance.

Tuesdays I work and Husband manages all matters domestic.  Usually this entails the ushering children to and from school, the attending the odd art class and the settling frequent squabbles.  Yesterday it required getting Sydney to the dance dress rehearsal.

I briefed Husband on getting Sydney into the dance costume. For a guy that has trouble getting Sydney into some bathing suits, he was quite game.  You dance Moms know of what I speak. For the non dance readers, think straight-jacket with sequences.  I also told Husband of the important hair requirement -- high pony tail with matching hair ribbon. Notably, I did not even mention the pink lipstick and blush -- I figured he had enough on his plate.

I admit was I was a bit nervous about the business and I actually tried to figure out a way to be at home to manage this, but the planets did not align.  Husband had it all planned out and was to leave the house at 3:40 to get to the theatre by 4:00. 

At 3:35 I received an urgent call from home.  I expected to hear about ponytail issues. Sydney was outright refusing to go.  She had a sore knee, she said.

Admittedly, she did skin her knee badly the day before which I'm sure was smarting.  Husband had tried the usual bandaid assortment to no avail. He suspected it was less about the knee and more about the anxiety about performing. He was getting twitchy. I asked to speak to my daughter.

My plan: get her to the theatre.  She did not actually have to rehearse, but I wanted her to see the stage before actual performance night or we were going to have a whole new set of problems. I also knew once she got there, she would likely rehearse. 

"Sydney, is your knee sore?"

"Yes!" she whimpered.

"I know.  Did Daddy give you a bandaid?"


"You don't have to dance but you need to go to the rehearsal."

She sobbed loudly.

"I know your knee is sore, but you need to see what the theatre looks like. You can tell Miss Nicole if you knee is too sore to dance. Okay?"

"I don't want to go."

"I know you don't and that your knee is sore, but you need to go."

After several rounds of I-don't-want-to / but-you-need-to she reluctantly agreed with the Mommy plan.

I told Husband the "good" news and hung up, leaving him to negotiate the costume, ponytail and drive to theatre.  Apparently it was a loud ride to the theatre as Sydney moaned and whimpered and did not seem to embrace the Mommy plan as I had hoped.

The remote Mommy persuasion, more than a little sweat equity by Daddy, and three sequential miracles accomplished the mission.

Miracle #1:  Sydney arrived at the theatre, and seemed somewhat willing to entertain the idea of dance IF she could have a bandaid exactly like the one Husband had just taken off her at home, at her insistance.  Husband does not travel with large bandaids that cover her entire knee and in fact we were out at home as well.

Someone at the theatre had the exact bandaid required..

Miracle #2: Jackson was an excellent accomplice in this endeavor.   He is known to be mildly helpful with Sydney at difficult times, but his reading of the situation was perfect. He spoke to her quietly in the car about going.  Once at the theatre he said "hey Sydney, I can do a dance routine!" and he did a break dance meets epileptic seizure for his sister. 

"Watch me do one!!" she said and did a similar seizure performance.

"Hey Sydney", he said matter of factly, "looks like you can dance after all".

If anyone else had said that she would have probably collapsed into tears and moaned about her knee.

Husband saw his opening and ushered Sydney toward the green room where her instructor ushered her right to the stage where she performed her whole routine.

She came out of her 3 minute practice on an even keel, which was really as much as we could have hoped for.  Husband called me to triumphantly report that he actually got her to the rehearsal but warned me it might be a very tough sell to get her to perform on Thursday or Saturday.

Then, along came miracle #3, in the form of my girlfiriend C. She is seasoned dance Mom to three girls.  She saw Sydney and complimented her on her costume.  Quite without knowing it, she said everything to Sydney that she needed to hear.  C. wanted to see Sydney perform, she said how much fun it is to be backstage and that Sydney could play with V (C's daughter).

By the time I came home, Sydney said the rehearsal went well and was excited that she'd get to play with V on Thursday.

We have one performance down and one to go.  I will be blogging in excruciating detail about the unbridled chaos that is (or seems to be) the year end show.  If you care to do any advance reading, you might peak at my blog from 2 years ago How to Ensure Chaos at a Year End Gymnastics ShowYou'll find some striking similarities.

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