The Great Negotiator…

It has been a weekend when our negotiating skills have taken center stage.  We’ve been (to paraphrase the old song) winning a little, losing a little…but, all in all, we can’t complain.  We have seen the top of J’s head more often over the past three days than we had in the past two years, and at no time has he been hatless merely for the purpose of a bath.  No, ladies and gentlemen, J has voluntarily removed his hat and patiently waited until the timer has made the low rattle that suddenly turns into a rather loud (and annoying) brrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiingggggg!

In the process of acclimating him to this new status quo, we’ve had to accept that J -who is a teenager through and through- will want something in return.  Because he knows that my patience and willingness to give in can only be pushed so far, he has calmly and politely requested things.  Furthermore, J has actually requested things that he really, really, really wants…so there hasn’t been random requesting of things just for the sake of getting his way.  We are not, thank goodness and all the powers of the Universe for this, being held hostage by hatlessness…

I would pinch myself, but I’m not going to; I’ve learned that this is neither dream nor dream-about-to-turn-into-nightmare…this is the new order of things, and the sooner I start accepting it with matter-of-factness, the sooner J will realize that negotiation is unnecessary.  While at first we reacted with some degree of obvious surprise at the sight of J walking around with the strap of his scrum cap undone, we now just smile at him and don’t make a fuss…the smile is encouraging, the fuss would be a reminder that there’s an emotional opening for finagling something or that he can tighten the strap just to make us squirm.

Meals are being consumed with J’s luscious head of hair visible from every angle.  Laundry is being folded, chores are being done…all with hair fully exposed.  If I could get him to go for a walk without his hats I’d be so close to “winning the lottery” again that I’d probably faint from the excitement.  I am sure I will be able to persuade him to meet the great outdoors without his head covered, but I will have to gingerly proceed towards this goal: dogs, you see, would cause anxiety and the hat would serve the purpose of making J feel like all is well.

I pick my battles, as you can clearly see…

Of course, the downside of the weekend has been that, after all our gardening exertions, we now have a freeze watch in place for tomorrow night.   The change in the weather pattern is not surprising; J has been avidly listening to Christmas music, a sure sign that things are not quite as spring-like as we’ve thought so far.  I have told J that tomorrow when he gets home from school we will bring the plant containers and, with his placid smile and a slight arch of his brow, he said OK.  In hindsight, this freeze watch should have been obvious to me as we put away blankets and jackets on Friday; J thought our whole push to get things done was pretty funny, and he giggled and laughed to his heart’s content.  Foolish mother, I didn’t notice that there was a streak of all-knowing J in his mirthfulness.

The weekend has been successful.  A lot of PLEASE, THANK YOU, I WANT.  Also a lot of time without the hats.  In fact, we got so many things done without the hats that I encouraged J to put Slinky down more frequently than usual and that was something that worked, too.  As I told TGG this morning: we are working towards weaning J of the emotional crutches that he’s been relying on, and it seems to be working.  The boxing gloves, bless that boy, were put in a basket under his bedside table; the humidifier has gone into storage; the green cargo pants (for which I’ve yet to find a replacement) have been completely set aside for the sake of plaid shorts.  This is what progress feels like…

Without trepidation I now say we are moving forward.  We can take the kid to the mall without incident; he will calmly sit with Dada while TGG and I float from store to store looking for clothes that TGG wants.  We can stop at the drive-in burger joint and calmly order food and eat it there (except when the carhop happens to be a burly guy and TGG is deflated because the cute girl who carhopped for us the last time isn’t there.)  We are now saying NO more often, and the repetitive request is not demanding or annoying, just…well…repetitive.

Tomorrow is another day.  Let’s see what this last week before Spring Break brings.  I am hoping, by the time the bus rolls down the road and comes to a complete stop in front of our driveway next Friday afternoon, J will be more open to the idea of baring his head for me for periods that add up to three hours a day…  I know…three hours isn’t much, but when you haven’t seen your kid’s head for that long in two years, you get excited about the prospect of even one hour.  Three hours seems like half a day…

We’re working up to that…

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