Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Learning to Barter

Bartering is not my thing.  It gives me anxiety to think about offering a price for something other than the price requested even when I know it's higher than it should be.  When we traveled to India back in 2006 we were told to barter otherwise we would pay a lot more than the actual price.  I couldn't do it.  My only successful attempts were when I really didn't want the item anyway: I would start walking away and they would keep lowering the price.  One shop we went into had these amazing handcarved wooden products.  We bought so many to bring home without asking for a significant price reduction (actually, didn't really ask for one at all) that, I'm sure out of his compassion for ignorant/dumb tourists, he threw in a couple of freebies.

At one point in my life I remember thinking I wanted to try to barter a price at a yard sale we stopped at, and so I did.  I offered a lower price, to which the woman (who was in charge of the whole thing) looked at me as if I was crazy and responded a simple, "No."  So I handed over what she originally asked and bolted out of there (urging Luke to move faster) before launching into a 30 minute discussion about whether or not the woman thought I was a total cheapskate, was I a cheapskate?, I didn't mean to offend, I hope we don't ever run into her on the streets, I don't think I'm a cheapskate, do you think I am a cheapskate? (Luke: No, of course not...) and so on.

Needless to say, poor Luke had a lot of reassuring to do that morning, and I have never asked for a lower price at a yard sale since.

Recently however, we were all gathered around for soup and salad at lunchtime, and I saw a glimmer of confident bartering in myself that seems to have emerged from the ashes. 

Tyler wanted to have a popsicle (or "ice lolly" if you are in England).  We make them out of a fruit smoothie mixture, and they have been a hit so far.  I wanted him to take a couple more bites of his lunch before the lolly, and knowing he is quickly developing a set of negotiating skills that could make for a long drawn out process, I aimed my requirements high.

Me: You can have your lolly after you have 5 bites of salad.

He immediately caught on that this number was a bit higher than is normally sufficient, he matched me with a low ball figure.

Tyler: How about I take 2 bites.

And the responses after that came together like a perfectly cut key to a greased lock.

Me: Well, you'll need to eat more than 2.  I'll make it 4, but you'll need to start eating those bites right now to keep that offer.

Tyler: How about I take 2 bites.

Me: No, 2 is too low.  Your body will barely make any profit on that amount of vegetable consumption.  Think about all the energy and calories used just to chew the salad.  You need at least a little extra to live on.  Here's what I'll do.  I can bring it down to 3 bites, but that's my final offer.  That's as low as I can go.  3 bites and then the ice lolly is yours.  What do you say?

Tyler: Okay, I will do 3 bites and then I get one ice lolly?

Me: That's right.  You really couldn't get a better deal if you tried.

Tyler: Okay Mommy.  That sounds like a good one.

And the bartering deal was sealed.  Victory!  Maybe it's time to take another trip to India...or make sure we have a back-up supply of ice lollies, once those bartering chips are gone I am stuck.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Magic of Lollipops

Tyler and I had a fun time the other day painting pictures.  And for the first time in awhile I decided to play music while we painted.  It was one of those things that as you are putting it on you wonder why you don't do it more often.  I put on the cd of songs from Luke's and my wedding, and soon, to the curiosity and bewilderment of my darling son I was spinning around the kitchen.  Maybe, my sudden urge to dance came from a lack of coffee or too much coffee, too little sleep or not enough exercise, but whatever the reason Tyler (for a minute) was into it.

Then he had a request: he wanted to listen to a lollipop song.  We didn't have a lollipop song.  I listed out suggestions, tried to make them seem like they were similar to lollipops.  An ode to a lollipop: "How Sweet it is to be Loved by You", a song about the ingredients in a lollipop: "Sugar, Sugar" or a song about a girl who must have loved lollipops because they call her "Sweet Caroline".  But Tyler would have none of it.  The lyrics were important in this case and the words had to show their loyalty by actually singing about "lollipops".

And then I flashed back to my sister's preschool graduation...where cute as can be kiddos (I thought I was a much older sister than the 3 years between us would suggest) danced to the Lollipop Song while holding enormous lollipops.

Not having the footage, I turned to YouTube to help me win "Mom of the Day" award and there was extreme success...an array of options to look at which all included the Lollipop Song.  I turned to the original version to start (what's better than the actual Chordettes singing it?), and we danced and danced and danced.  Luke came in and started dancing too.  Something about the harmonies and the memories, something about dancing in the kitchen, something about singing about lollipops was magical that day.  In fact, I still have lollipops singing around in my head.

That day, it was Tyler that had to tell Luke and me: "Okay, we are all done with that one.  Time to go outside and play."  To which we protested a bit, but then came to understand his reasoning.  It was sunny out, and in England you really have to take advantage of that when you can. 

So we went out to play, and then soon after dropped Tyler off for his second day of afternoon nursery school.  We waited until we were sure he was okay (after the teachers came out in the hall several times to assure us he was happily playing with Bob the Builder blocks), and we scooted back home. Before working, before cleaning, before doing anything, Luke and I looked at each other and smiled. 

And we danced to one more Lollipop song, like little kids sneaking another cookie out of the jar.