I have noticed that for the past year or so, I’ve been doling out punishment for bad behavior at an alarmingly high rate. I have also noticed, that despite all of the practice, I have admittedly found myself making amateur mistakes when determining what is an appropriate punishment. Just the other day in response to my son pushing his sister off of the slide, I marched up to him in a huff and proclaimed “That’s it. No more. I’m taking that away”. At the time, I didn’t know what “that” was, I knew he had something in his hand, perhaps a car or an action figure, but I didn’t take the time to properly investigate.
Unfortunately, “that” was a piece of cantaloupe. A piece of cantaloupe that he had begrudgingly been snacking on because I had denied him the goldfish he so desperately wanted. I had reacted too quickly and hastily decided to take away the only good thing he had eaten all day which also happened to be a piece of fruit that he has lukewarm feelings about at best. Even his little person brain could understand that I had made a wrong move. He looked at me and said “okay”. No tears, no whining, no “I promise I won’t do it ever again”, just “okay”. The kind of “okay” that says “better luck next time Mom.”
As I stood there with the slimy piece of melon in my hand I knew that I had to make a choice. I could slink back into the house and admit defeat OR I could commit. Commit to the idea that I was taking away something valuable, something he would miss, something he needed. So that’s what I did, I sold cantaloupe to that kid like my life depended on it. I highlighted it’s health benefits flaunting it’s abundance in Vitamin A and C, I claimed that it had healing powers and may have even labelled it a “super fruit”, something I’m pretty sure it is not. And just as I was wrapping up my pitch, it happened, the tears started to flow and I knew that I had won. I was just about to take my victory lap when I realized that these were not his typical crocodile tears, it seemed I had gone too far and his face was now soaked with saliva and snot. He was hyperventilating and there was no way to stop it. My plan had backfired and now I was consoling a sobbing 5 year old and on the verge of tears myself. I did my best to back peddle but it was too late, the damage was already done. I had made the worst mistake any salesperson could make; I oversold the product. The only thing I could do to stop it now was give him back the cantaloupe and offer him the goldfish that I had denied him earlier. After a moment, he wiped his tears and said “okay”, the kind of “okay” that says “better luck next time Mom.”
Well played son, well played.