Last night, on the way home from soccer, Sean asked if we could stop by Sonic and get a peach iced tea.
I love peach iced tea and Sonic, but I just wasn’t in the mood to stop. I was tired and I was anxious to get home, get dinner going and get back to the joy of scraping wallpaper. So I said no.
“But I really want to go to Sonic! Besides, I never get my way!” he whined and then he added a Harrumph! to emphasize that he never gets his way. Normally my rule is that if you are whining the answer is automatically no. Add a disdainful Harrumph! and you got bigger problems than No. Normally no means no with me but I decided to push back at him a little bit instead.
“Oh really?” I asked skeptically. “Give me an example of when you didn’t get your way.”
He immediately popped off two examples.
“Okay, give me two more!” I said.
No, not really. I didn’t say that.
But when we came to a stop light, I turned to him in the backseat and asked him if he could think of a way to change my mind about going to Sonic.
“I really really want to go. Please? Pretty pleeeeeez can we go to Sonic?” he pleaded in little boy falsetto. I could tell from his big blue sincere eyes that he really really wanted to go which made it that much harder to say no. But he hadn’t said anything to change my mind. He hadn’t said anything that he hadn’t already said, he just said it more nicely.
I told him that I really appreciated his courtesy and not whining, but that he had to think about it differently. He had to figure out a way to persuade me to go to Sonic by appealing to my heart. I told him that in life, no one cares if you never get your way or if you really really want something. In life, you need to persuade people to your point of view by using words and facts and you have to figure out how to do that.
Perhaps inspired by the presidential debates, I have been thinking more and more about how I want Sean to learn how to use words to persuade others, to make a case for his point of view. I want him to become adept in the art of rhetoric because it will be another arrow in his quiver of life skills.
As we continued towards home, not a sound was heard from the backseat.
“Mom, I’ve been an extra good boy this week,” he finally said. “I’ve helped you tear off wallpaper. I’d really like togo to Sonic to get a peach tea, but if you don’t want to, that’s okay. I’ll still help you tear off wallpaper.”
A well-reasoned argument. I was persuaded.
So we went to Sonic and got a peach tea.