"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
Lets me honest. We all know those people in our circle of friends who seem to negotiate there way into or out of anything. Maybe it's a better price for a bag of fruit at a market or a pay raise at work, these people seem to have the art of bartering down pat, and they seem to be able to use it to their advantage more often than not. So my question is why aren't we all teaching our kids to negotiate like a pro?
Growing up in the UK there were car boot sales on every weekend, for everyone that doesn't know this is where people all got to the same place and set up stall out the back of their car to sell things. This was where I found my legs in bartering. Going back and forth on a price for an item or negotiating two or three items for a better deal was something I loved doing. Now as an adult u use the same skills set (a little more honed, but the same). While traveling I try to get things like a free airport pick up with my room or a deal on tour if I am booking something else with the same company. When at the farmer market I will bundle items for a better deal. At work I negotiate schedules, time off, even pay, everything is on the table.
Meal Time, Deal Time
Negotiating is and art, the process of listening to what the other person is say and then using your knowledge of past communication, body language and limitations to form a counter offer is almost symphonic. At our house you will regularly hear Lucy my oldest say "Dad I want to make you a deal" this is her simple way of opening negotiations. She knows she wants something that won't come for nothing and she has already formulate a deal to present to me. This process started at the dinner table, the conversation of 'i'm done, no you're not, how many more bites'. I would give a number of bites and she would finish and ask to be excused. Then over time the conversation developed, we split the food up to enable some back a forth, 'Ok, 5 bites of potato, 3 of broccoli and 2 of pie'. This opened a door, the door for Lucy to now negotiate how much of each food she wanted to eat. So after a while with some encouragement she started to counter, less potato, more pie and all the broccoli. Now after a year or more of this process she pipes up with her own a pre-arranged deal to which I have to make her offer to her counter.
Building On The Small Stuff
From this seemingly small meal time start Lucy has moved into negotiating on lots of things, Bedtime, Playtime, toys, treats, you name it and she will come up with a deal. It's amazing to see how her skill set is developing. She already tailors her negotiation to the person she is talking to and you can watch her gauging their reaction to see if there is another round of deals to be made or if this is the point of 'take it or leave it'. She is learning in a very simple way the process of reading people. Obviously, she wont be negotiating for hostages or brokering multi-million dollar deals from her Dora the explorer phone any time soon, but starting now, and having so many years to practice means that one day maybe she will. For now I see the empowerment and pride she feels after 'closing' a deal and it makes me feel good about helping her gain this extra tool in her belt.
Learning sign can be tricky, but if you break it down into manageable chunks it's much easier. Here are some easy signs you can practice around the grocery store.
'What do you want to impart to your children as they grow up ?'
This was a question I was recently ask. I answered that I hoped to teach my girls to be strong and confident and not to be held back by other's perceptions of limitations. That night and for the few days since I have thought about the question and my answer and if it could be boiled down to one words. Finally last night I realized that the word I was looking for was adventurous. I would like my girls to be adventurous.
'Del Monte Quality, Guatemala, 4011' Lucy switches her gaze between me and the label she has peeled of the banana she is slowly devouring. After finishing she looks back up at me, stuff that last piece of banana in her mouth and with an 'OK' goes back about the business of being a 3 year old.
When Lucy was getting ready to come into the world, Sheena and myself were trying to devour copious amounts of information about child development and giving your kid a good start. From Brain Rules for Babies to The Wealthy Barber Returns we read, or listened to, as much as possible to help plan educationally, financially and emotionally for our kids arrival. When it came to talking it seemed like most places were throwing out 30,000 words a day for a toddler to hear which is around 12 million words by the time they reach the age of three and they are doing well.
Having two girls (3 and 1.5) that love to be read to is great. They will listen to so many different stories about far off places and amazing creatures. However as a dad it plays on my mind the type of message i'm sending to them if I read to many princess saved by hero or girl as the damsel books. So last year I set about on a search for some books that I felt, sent the message to Lucy and Tilley that they can, be happy, do anything they put their mind to and achieve amazing things under their own steam...............Prince not required.
So here is my list, it is by no means comprehensive and only my opinion but when I read them to my daughters I get a good feeling in my heart about what the books are saying. Although they may not realize it yet I hope subconsciously its empowering them now and for down the road in later life.
My three year old daughter appears at the bottom of the stair's dressed in a bright blue princess dress. Every time we make beer together it's a must. She pulls a chair up to the table. Hot air rises from the mash tun filling the house with the smell of malted barley. Carefully she takes a spoon and scoops up the citra hops in to a small container my wife has placed on the scale. Filling the container to the correct weight and emptying it in to a cheese cloth waiting to be tied up and dropped into our brew later.
I know what you're thinking, this seems like a blog for the brewing section but there is more going on here. In the time we spend brewing together Lucy learns about cleanliness, accuracy, timing and a host of other life skills. As she measures the hops into the container she practices focus and accuracy. As we add them during the boiling she learns about timing. As she helps to adjust the water through the wort chiller she learns about thermodynamics and when the yeast is finally added she is hearing how it converts one thing into another. Although she may not understand everything that is going on, her mind is being opened up to new ideas, and ways of thinking.
Deep down I hope that by teaching my daughters about brewing and alcohol from a young age it will help them in later life. Maybe to make more good decisions about drinking responsibly and even have some resilience to pier pressure by removing the the mystery around alcohol.
So if you are looking to do something with your kids that could be educational, fun and let you end up with some good beer, why not have a go. The knowledge you could be imparting might be used by your kids for the rest of their life but even more importantly your are learning these things together, in a way that's fun and those memories will definitely last forever.
Tilley reaches her chubby little arm up into the air, stretches out her fingers, then balls them up into a fist and repeats. My wife and I leap from our seats, after months of practice, Tilley has thrown up here first sign, and its 'Milk'.
Even before we had our first daughter my wife and I agreed that learning two languages is a great exercise for kids. Not only does it give them an extra skill but helps them with adaptive thinking. There was just one problem, neither of us was fluent in any other language than English. Yes, between us, we had taken French, German, Spanish and even Russian classes but we were definitely not fluent. Then while researching second languages for kids we fell upon baby sign language and then ASL (american sign language). After looking into ASL for kids it seemed to fill all the things we wanted to impart to our children and more. As well as them learning a second language, it would help with dexterity and possibly provide them with a way of communicating long before they found their words.