Anyone who has children (or can remember their childhood) knows this game.

You just told your child that they can’t do something and they run to their father who doesn’t realize that you just said no and he says, “Sure you can!” Or… They ask their father if they can do something and he says, “It’s okay with me, go ask your Mother.”

This is just one sneaky little way that every child will try to get his or her way with.

So then I said, “NO! In no uncertain terms are you going anywhere. You haven’t finished your homework. Now get to it!”

Now comes the pout. Oh yes girls… children quickly pick up on this little trick. I actually believe there are board meetings held in nursery school sandboxes where the older of the kids clues in the younger ones to master this technique before they hit 3 or 4! Lesson Two of this agenda is the stance. The crossing of arms and the firm stance where they tilt their little heads down just enough to look up under their eyebrows so they look sad yet a little defiant. The Coup de Gras is the whine! The little tear, the whimper… How can’t a parent give in to this type of intense training! Believe me, it’s tough!

In my house these types of shenanigans took place on a regular basis! And, of course, since most of the time my husband and I were not in the same room, we could never really hear what the other had to say about any given situation. With four kids, a dog, five cats and any number of neighborhood children in my house at any one given time, you had to keep your eyes and ears open every second lest you slip up and say yes to volunteering to chaperone a bus trip to Florida for an entire elementary school! Yes… You must be vigilant!

Needless to say there were many a time that these situations would put my husband and me at odds. One reason for this is that I believe we can easily see through our own sex. Since I had four daughters, they always knew that their father would give in. Oh yes, he was literally wrapped around those little tiny pink fingers of theirs. It was going to be an up hill battle.

Many a time the two of us wound up in the “conference room.” That was our cavernous cellar in our old fixer upper Victorian house. I would demand a “conference session” to “convene” and we would both stomp downstairs. Well, maybe I was the one doing more stomping than him, but all the same, down we went to the farthest corner we could find to try to resolve our differences as to how we would handle any given child request that we differed on.

Meanwhile, at the top of the stairs, all four of them would plaster their ears to the door to the “conference room.” I also think they were placing bets amongst each other as to which way the pendulum would swing.

On this note, I must give my husband the parenthood medal for patience… With me, and the kids. We would have our little “discussion,” make our decision and head up the stairs. Half the time we would go to open the door only to find them poised in the kitchen waiting for the verdict. There were a few times when we had especially long “conferences” which would make the girls very uneasy. And when we returned upstairs they all stared at us intently and wanted to know if we were going to get a divorce! We actually had to fight to keep from laughing, but always kept a straight face…. Until they went to bed of course.

Our solution to the Divide and Conquer problem was actually and easy one. As time went on, instead of arguing because of contradicting each other, we started to just have one answer to any of their questions. “We’ll discuss this when your (mother/father) gets home!” End of story! Saved us a lot of “conference time” and since we discussed it openly with the child asking the request they could understand (or not) why we were deciding the way we did. The united front of both of us was a great force against their pouts, whines, etc. It was even pretty good against the rolling eyes of teenagers!

There was just one thing though. I got less exercise when we no longer “convened” a “conference session!” I was in better shape then.


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