Growing up I had many phases where I wanted to have different professions. My career choices ran the gamut from being a WNBA player, a model, a unicorn (for real, guys), an interior designer, a detective, and a finally a teacher. There was one year, though, that I wanted to be a lawyer. I even took an elective law class in high school. Ten years later I now realize that I have a certain skill set that would have made me an extremely successful lawyer.
Being a mother, I have honed my art of persuasion. Manipulating children is relatively easy enough—I can persuade my child to choose to stop fighting with his or her sibling or else he or she will go to time out and lose out on playtime. Manipulation. I can persuade my children to brush their teeth because they just might have monkeys in there that need to get out. Parents around the world use these little white lies, redirections, distractions, sometimes bribing, and often times manipulation to get their children to fall in line because, after all, children need guidance.
However, my real skill set kicks in between midnight and 5:00 AM. During these late night hours, you would think I had written Rhetoric myself instead of Aristotle. I whip out those persuasive devices as if I have a tool belt holding each argument like a carpenter carries his tools. I get on my soapbox, and much in the style of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Patrick Henry, I put my all into persuading my husband to get up with whatever kid is crying.
There is no playing fair during a 2:00 AM persuasive battle. I probably put more energy into convincing my husband to get up than it would take to actually get up and check on my kids. However, desperate and exhausted times call for desperate and dramatic measures. Watch out Johnny Cochran and Franklin D. Roosevelt with your “Fireside Chats” and take some notes. Here’s how you really persuade.
First, you ask nicely. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar, am I right? Well, no, I am not right. Because apparently the bees also enjoy their sleep and want to save their honey for the morning.
Second, you incorporate that vinegar. I don’t like this aspect of my personality. However, when I am tired, I will turn sour and salty. I put on a façade of resentment and irritation, illuminating the fact that I had spent all day with the kids and had gotten up with them the previous nights. It may or may not be the truth, but I act offended at the fact that I am expected to do this… again.
Third, you bribe. By now, the kid is screaming louder and well on the way to waking up the other child. But, my dark circles and bags under my eyes are more severe and offensive than the crying at the moment. I know I have a few more last ditch efforts to perfect this art of persuasion. In this stage, you bribe as you do your child—you make promises of getting up with the kids, making breakfast or dinner, bathing the kids and doing bedtime by yourself for the next two nights. No? THREE nights? Still no?!
Fourth, you realize that you are not in fact like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Aristotle and angrily throw the blanket off and get up, in hopes that you also threw the blanket off your husband. You then proceed to make as loud of a production as possible: you huff, stomp, maybe make a rude remark, and if you’re very daring, you may even turn on a light or two to ensure your husband is, indeed, awake with you, even if he is in bed.
Sometimes, after a night like this, it is enough to actually get my husband to get up with the kids the next night. After all, the energy, time, and dignity wasted is too much for him, too. But, on nights were it doesn’t work, I have started giving myself a reward. Maybe I just found a way to persuade myself, instead.
Now, on the nights that I fail at remaining in bed, I sneak downstairs and enjoy a piece of chocolate. In silence. With no grubby, dirty fingers grabbing at my legs for a bite like The Walking Dead. I can close my eyes and enjoy every morsel. There is no pressure to share or to hide or to rush because not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Or a husband. Or a child.
Just me, silence, and chocolate.
Even though I had to get up at an ungodly hour, launch into too many stages of persuasion with my husband and then to comfort and soothe a child, I’d say I still won that case.
I have found a way to manipulate my own self. Law school—here I come.