Childhood Roots of a Barterer


When I tell you that my kid is driving me crazy, and you respond by assuring me that this particularly aggravating personality trait of his “may be annoying now, but it will serve him well in the future,” it baffles me. I don’t get it. I know that at the heart of it, you are just basically trying to keep me becoming a day drinker. I know that your intentions are good. But your lie about a personality trait morphing into a fabulously coveted attribute seems to be somewhat far-fetched.

Because I ask you this: in what magical future land do you see that sauntering around, with absolutely no sense of urgency, will become a trait that is sure to be the secret to his success? HOW is it that you think I’m going to believe that when my son strolls into the office, late for the morning meeting, and then just sort of nods at his superiors like they are the dumbest most annoying fools whose presence he has ever graced, that the HR department is going to be having celebratory drinks that they were the ones who hired such a gem? Is it unrealistic to think that his explanation of “I couldn’t get my hair to come out right” and “I had nothing to wear” (even though they KNOW for a fact that he has a drawer FULL of expensive clothes that he refuses to wear) isn’t going to cut the mustard when he is an adult?

Or maybe that wasn’t the personality trait to which you were referring. Maybe you were talking about the badgering.

The badgering is going to be the death of me.

“Why? Why? Why can’t I go? But why? But why did you say no? I know you said no, but why? What is the reason? Buy why? Why? Why?”

Unless he grows up to be Tom Cruise and inexplicably finds himself in a situation where he has to badger Jack Nicolson until Jack finally admits that he did, indeed, order the Code Red on Santiago (“You’re goddamn right I did!”) …well, I just don’t see how this particularly grating personality trait will come in handy.

So, what exactly are you talking about? As far as I can see, we have confirmed that it is not his sloth-like movements that are going to be his ticket to success. And it isn’t his badgering (with the one obvious exception that I mentioned.) Certainly, you can’t be talking about his stubbornness. Certainly, you don’t expect me to believe that a child who won’t put on his coat in 20-degree weather, for no other reason than the fact that he was told to put it on, is going to transform that pain-in-the-ass stubbornness into a lucrative career. I want to see the career that lists that trait as one that is necessary for the job. “Candidate must be so stubborn that he would bite off his own nose to spite his face.”

I’ll have you know that I was just about call you out on your filthy lies. I was “this close” to telling you that you must take me for some kind of fool…when I realized which personality trait you were referring to. How I could have overlooked it is a mystery to me.

It is his bartering skills that are going to be the secret to his success. That’s what you were talking about, right?

And why not? He practices it all the time. Even just now, I yelled in to him, “You should be ready to go in ½ and hour!” and he immediately yelled back, “One hour!”

“You need to be home at 6:00.” “7:00!”

“You can watch one more show.” “Two more shows!”

“You can have one friend sleep over.” “Two friends!” “Okay, two friends, but they have to be gone by 10:00 in the morning.” “Three friends, 11:00, and it’s a deal!”

He’s going to be a barterer. A slow-moving, badger-you-to-death, stubborn-as-an-ox, extremely successful barterer.

You called it.


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