Super Bowl commercials always get people talking (if they are successful). I tried to closely watch them in between cringing at the slow execution playing out on live TV that was called a “football game” last weekend.
Oh, Denver. Bless. Your. Heart.
But I missed the Cheerios commercial. I knew it would be one of the most talked about commercials, based on the conversations started by the first Cheerios commercial with Gracie’s family last year. When I finally tracked it down on social media yesterday, I expected to see the typical racist comments among the mounds of praise for Cheerios representing interracial families.
What I did not expect were the handful of comments here and there from people who thought that Gracie was “entitled” and “bratty” for negotiating for a puppy.
Let me stop and say that these comments were a tiny percentage of the (largely positive) chatter I saw. I hardly think it’s enough to call controversy. Still, it’s something I wanted to touch on because I am currently living with a negotiator that could take down Jack Bauer #JackIsBack… or at least make him slightly crazy.
A few of these comments made mention that this was the kind of behavior they just would not tolerate from a kid. How dare she not be happy with a baby brother. How dare she see this as an opportunity to ask for something more.
There was chatter that this is what’s wrong with kids these days and of course with parents these days. As if along with the invention of Facebook came the invention of children testing boundaries and pushing their parents to see what they can get and how. And all of the sudden, parents are just rolling over and taking it.
And then that’s leading to too many selfies, and kids texting in all emojis, loss of the English language, and so on. Right?
I laugh because, for real, I was one of those people before I had kids.
Nuh-uh. You don’t talk to ME that way. I will shut you down because I AM THE MOTHER.
In my head, before kids, that’s exactly how that would go. Because obviously I would be the first mother to ever think of trying such a simple tactic with her child.
And now Karma laughs as she kicks my ass out of bed every morning. The negotiating starts before 7 am, and doesn’t stop until the final deal has been hashed before he passes out.
But I did eat almost all of my food for dinner, mom, so how about I have just a little bit of candy. Not all of it. Just a little. Okay, some chocolate milk, then. Ugh. Okay. Just regular milk. Okay, fine! Just a glass of water! And an orange?
And if you’re one of those people who just would not tolerate this kind of behavior, you have far more energy reserves than I do. Oh, and if you don’t currently have children? Well, I wish you all the best and hope Karma doesn’t track you down like she did me if/when that time ever comes.
Now, I’m not saying all kids are born with this urge to negotiate and dictate every moment of their life, every decision they can try to eek themselves into. It’s entirely possible you have that child that listens to you and doesn’t test boundaries. I mean, you might have also birthed a unicorn, so you should see if you can make some money off of that.
But my kid? It’s in him. It always has been. I could say I’m just “not going to tolerate it” and then I would spend my days actually going crazy. Like, not enough medication in the world for either of us for me to try to shut that thing down.
Or, I can let him feel safe to try out these negotiation skills with me, and I can still be the mom, and still make most of the decisions.
I can still say things to him like, “Stop trying to extort me. You are about to lose your bean and cheese tacos.”
Because surprise, me-before-kids! You will bribe your children with fast-food TexMex.
One of these comments was from a woman on a Facebook page all about empowering girls and women. And I thought, if Gracie can’t feel safe to test out negotiating for stuff with her parents, if they’re expected to tell her to knock it off every time she tries to ask for something in addition to that thing she’s already been given, then how is Gracie supposed to learn how to ask for things?
When she gets to the workforce, and she feels like she IS entitled to that pay raise her male counterpart just received for the same level of work, is she going to have the confidence to walk in and ask for it?
This is a far jump from asking for a puppy, I get it, but I just have to step in and say that I’m not letting my kids “run all over me” when I allow them to negotiate with me. Do they get what they want? Often times, no. Do I take the time to listen to them, and talk to them about some ways they can get what they want? Most of the time, yes.
And are there some days when I’m like, “OMG. Stop. Just stop. I said go to sleep. GO TO SLEEP”? Basically every day.
Now, if my kids asked for a puppy when I was expecting a baby, I would pat their sweet little heads and try to buy their love with anything that doesn’t poop.
Sweetie, I see your puppy, and raise you a brand new iPad.
On which they would probably learn how to converse in only emoji and take 50 selfies a day…. so maybe I see where this is going.