Throwback Thursday – The Negotiator

This is a post from 10 years ago and includes one of my favorite stories about my oldest grandson, Reed.

bradley-stI grew up in the middle-class suburban town of East Haven, Connecticut. The first home I remember was an apartment in a converted Army barracks but when I was in third grade, we moved to a small ranch style house in East Haven where my father lived until he went into assisted living eight years ago. We would probably have been classified as a lower middle class family but I don’t remember lacking for anything, at least until high school, and even then the the things I wanted were more wishes than needs.  One was clothes. Oh, I had enough clothes but they all came from Anderson-Little. Anderson-Little was a New England factory direct retailer of men’s clothing and while their products were reasonably priced and decently made, they definitely weren’t cool (neither was I but that’s another story for another post). The cool guys bought their clothes at the small men’s shops around Yale University where the price of a single sweater could send my father into who-would-pay-that much-for-a-sweater paroxysms.

Then there was the matter of a car. Some of the guys had their own cars and most came from families that had two cars, so they usually had wheels at their disposal. We always had catalina_1just one car and there were definite limits on how often I could use it. My father considered asking to use the Pontiac … and the subsequent lengthy justification and negotiation … an essential father-son ritual. This was never more true than during the summer of my junior year of college when I started dating my wife-to-be who lived 45 minutes away in Bridgeport. The discussions were particularly grueling when I wanted to bring her back to New Haven for a concert at the Yale Bowl, thus traveling the 45 minutes four times! Bless him, when all was said and done, I usually got to use the car, and I certainly honed my skills as The Negotiator.

My oldest grandson, Reed, is starting his training at the considerably younger age of four (I’ll soon be five, then I’ll be big, he’d tell you). Regardless of what he’s told or asked to do, he feels it’s his job to discuss it with you, consider alternate options that you might have missed, and negotiate a different plan of action. This behavior is easy to laugh at as a grandfather but drives his Mom and Dad crazy, though he’s so inventive that sometimes they’re covering their mouths to keep from laughing as they send him off to sit on time out.

During our last visit to Arizona, Reed and his younger brother Maddux were staying at our Little House in the Desert. My wife and Reed were drawing on a Magna-Doodle on the sofa while Maddux and I were looking at golfers through my birdwatching binoculars through the patio door. When Reed noticed this, he came over and grabbed the binoculars out of his brother’s hands. I took them back and handed them to Maddux. This is the conversation that ensued:

Me (Papa): Reed, you can’t just grab the binoculars. If you want to use them, you’ll have to ask. Say Papa,can I please use the binoculars?

Reed (after a thoughtful pause): Papa, I just can’t do that.

Papa (trying hard not to laugh): Well, if you want to use the binoculars, you’ll have to ask. Why can’t you do that?

Reed: I just can’t. I have binoculars at home and I use them all the time. So I want to use yours.

Papa: Then just ask like I said.

Reed: I want to see the golfers, too. Maddux is looking at them. I want to. He didn’t ask.

Papa: All you have to do is ask.

Reed: That’s not fair. Maddux has to share.

Papa: He’ll share after you ask. Just ask.

Reed: I can’t do that, Papa. I can’t.

Papa (taking the binoculars and peering across the fairway): Wow, there’s an elephant in the backyard over there.

Reed: Papa, can I please use the binoculars?

The Little Negotiator is no match for the Big Negotiator … yet.

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One Comment on “Throwback Thursday – The Negotiator”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    Mydad nearly had a heart attack when he learned Rita and I drove from home (Bridgeport) to Yale Bowl, then to the “ice cream parlor” in Westport before coming back to Bridgeport.

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