Thursday, May 24, 2012

our Overton window

"What did we just agree to?", Magnum asked.

"Wait... what?", me still figuring it.

Yesterday, Chaco took the car that I use.  He and four of his friends got in it and went to Denver for a day of general mayhem.  How did he manage that?

Chaco doesn't ask to use the cars often.  This is because we aren't very liberal in letting him use them.  He doesn't have a car of his own, and he knows he can use one of our cars for school events or for running errands or chauffering Meego somewhere.  For anything else, he "rents" from us, and that actually rarely happens since he's usually broke. 

So when he came to me the other day asking if he could (a) use the car to (b) drive him and 4 friends to Denver for (c) a day of mayhem, the odds weren't in his favor since (a) it didn't fall in to one of the previously mentioned categories, and (b) he has never driven around "the big city" with a car full of teenaged friends that (c) wouldn't all fit very comfortably in the car anyway, and besides (d) I needed the car for tutoring.

The exchange began, with Chaco making the first moves.

They were (a) all good guys, (b) they'd been planning this trip for a while, but the two original drivers had car troubles, (c) they would all pay their fair share for gas and (d) Robbie was small and would fit comfortably in the 5th position. 

Then he cleaned his room, which caused me to stumble momentarily, but I stayed on my feet.     

All of his negotiating tactics were true, except for maybe (d). I said I'd think about it.  Wimpy counter, I admit.

So just how did he get us to say "yes"? 

They toned the trip plans down to be a little less mayhemic (word?  It is now) and also promised to have the car back quite a bit sooner than originally requested.  At that point, it felt easy to say, "okay".

So when Magnum asked, "What did we just agree to?", we gave it some thought.  We realized that the plan they ended up with was probably all they wanted in the first place, but if they would have asked for just that in the first place, they were less lkely to get the okay.  If you want a rock ask for the moon, and then settle for a rock. 

I think I'll start honing my skills on that strategy.


  1. Chaco's a smart kid! (Not that I'm surprised!) And I don't think you really felt suckered. You have good kids. Deep down, you know you can trust them. I think that as parents, we just always have the feeling that we should be winning the battles!

  2. Smart kid. Ask for everything, settle for what you can get. He's got the makings of a good negotiator (or lawyer). Those pesky kids are always testing the limits of the deal.

  3. I love this! There are so many times my hubby and I look at each other after a conversation with our kids and think "What did we just do??" It's nice to know we aren't the only suckers out there. :)

  4. Now there are "parenting experts" out there who would scream and say that you have it all wrong!

    These "experts", of course, have never had kids of their own so what the h£$% do they know?

  5. I'm so glad I'm never going to have to live through this. Chalk it up to graduating HS and before he has to buckle down at college? Love your bat. It looks electric, which is kind of how I think of bats.

  6. You taught him well. Maybe too well?