Sibling negotiations

Naomi:  You need to make it up to me!”

Milo: “How?”

“Figure it out.  Use your BRAIN,” she directed, as she flipped her hair over her shoulder and flounced out of the room, secure in her position of power. 

“Ha!” I thought, as I listened to the exchange.  “His little sister is providing him a good education about relationships…..maybe I should try that angle……” 

Milo had returned home Sunday even to a massive stack of circulars on the front doorstep, and he was angling for some assistance with his job.  He has had a job delivering these adverts weekly since last September, and he’s good at it.  He always remembers when they’re due to arrive and is conscientious about getting his deliveries done before the Wednesday night deadline.  He’s entirely self motivated on this project.  The pay varies widely week to week, depending upon the number and weight of the papers, but over the months he has amassed a few hundred dollars, of which he has hardly spent a penny.

The stack of circulars was going to be a big job to collate and deliver this week, and his brain immediately began to churn with ideas of how to ameliorate the workload.  He first plea for help fell on unsympathetic ears (mine).  “No, sorry Milo, that’s your job.”  His second try was to his sister, who is generally excited to be involved in her big brother’s paper route. She is also a good, energetic worker. 

Monday before school the job share negotiations started at $10 on Naomi’s side, and $7 on Milo’s side.  Jeremiah opined that $7 was an unfair proportion of the $30 Milo was getting paid for this week’s deliveries.  I stuck in my own oar in with a comment about how the job expected had to be clearly defined beforehand (unclarity around that issue was the root of last week’s debacle).  Negotiations were noisy and belligerent. They were not complete by the time I hustled the kids off to school. 

Now, Milo really wants help with this job, so after school the debate continued.  The price hovered as high as $10, and the deal was almost clinched.  Then Milo employed his typical power tactic, startling Naomi when she was washing her feet in the tub, and shoving her as she tried to leave the bathroom.  That behavior led to the exchange I overheard, much to my satisfaction.  Having to deal with a big brother like Milo will make Naomi a strong character, that’s for sure. 

Milo thought for a moment. I thought he might be pondering how bullying wrecks relationships and doesn’t get him the cooperation that he wanted…. “Hum, I guess I’ll try bribery,” he said. Not quite the strategy I was hoping for.

“Milo’s going to buy me a chocolate bar at the dairy if I help him with his papers,” Naomi announced, returning to the kitchen. 

“That doesn’t sound like a very good deal, chicky,” I advised, disheartened that she was so easily swayed by food.  “You don’t know if the chocolate bar he buys will be a little one, or a big one.” 

“Mom, don’t tell her that!” Milo was annoyed that I was interfering his negotiations when he had nearly pulled off a lucrative deal. 

Naomi thought for a moment, recognized the truth of the statement, and went back to the drawing board.

Shortly Naomi came back to announce THE DEAL:  Milo would buy her anything she wanted at the dairy for up to $7.50, in exchange for help with stacking, folding and delivering the papers.  I tried to tell her that payment in money was better, and that if she got money, she could go buy herself what she wanted at the dairy and probably have money left over.  She wasn’t having a bar of it.  Clearly, the lure of being able to command Milo to buy her what SHE wanted was worth more than actual money to her. 

I’m sure that point will not be lost on Milo, astute as he is in the ways of money, if not in the ways of healthy relationships. 

Incredibly, the rest of the afternoon has passed in industrious, cooperative activity. 

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