My husband and I are terrible role models. I’m afraid our boys are never going to make it in the real world under our guidance. It’s because of my consummate rose-colored glasses and my husband’s black or white outlook. Our children are not getting a realistic education about the way the world really works. They’re screwed! Naturally, we blame our parents. But at least we’re aware of the problem, right? And we can take steps to fix it?
Step 1. Put your children in front of the TV.
Step 2. Turn on the History Channel.
Step 3. Back away.
Well, actually, there’s more involved to good parenting than plunking your kids down in front of the TV to unschool them from everything you’ve inadvertently taught them. Step 3 was just a joke. But Steps 1 and 2 are going to save our children from a life of misread signs along the road.
It’s not that Skye and I are bad parents. We love our kids like crazy. We want the best for them, of course. But we are flawed. It’s our perspective that is blinding us from seeing any of the red flags the Universe throws in front of us. We are Mrs. and Mr. Magoo.
A realtor could take us to an abandoned house on a dead end street lined with rusty old cars for planters, and if the sun were shining brightly, the sky blue, we would take that to mean This Is The Place For Us.
Bats flying out of the chimney wouldn’t bother me because, as I’ve learned from studying my totem animals, a bat’s visit can be a warning that change will soon occur and not to be afraid. If I hadn’t been so well informed, I probably would have run away screaming.
But it’s not just a matter of applying the wrong information to each situation. It goes deeper than that. My Irish genes have mutated. Even the most time-honored superstitions fail to guide me. A black cat crosses my path and I brush it off as: “It probably has a white spot on its nape that I just can’t see from this angle.”
When I see a broken mirror, I assume its bad luck has expired: “That thing was probably broken eight years ago. We’re good.”
My husband, on the other hand, sees things not in rose color but in black or white. Either it’s good or it’s horrid. I have not been able to crack the code on what contributes to either perspective, or trust me, I’d be tweaking that to my advantage.
When Skye’s perception is white, it looks like this: He sees an ad for a camera in the classifieds. He checks it out. Talks to the sellers, decides he likes them and he brings home a broken 35mm camera for the full asking price of $250 because: “They seemed like really honest people.”
“Well, you should have bought the people and turned the broken camera down,” I wanted to tell him. But we had just met and I was still intrigued by the interesting way he thinks.
When Skye’s perception is black, it looks like this: We drive across country. It is our first vacation together. We are half way through Western New York and about to drive under a bridge upon which people are waving and giving us the peace sign. Skye sees them, guns the engine and gives them the finger.
I said, “Why did you do that?!!”
“Because they were about to throw a rock at our windshield!!”
“They were giving us the peace sign!”
“That guy was holding something. He was going to throw it.”
“How do you get this (I block his view of the road with my fist) from this (I block his view with a peace sign)!?”
We never should have had kids. With our mixed up interpretations of the world our kids are doomed to buying haunted houses with broken mirrors, bats living in the chimney, black cats running across their path. The mailman will stop delivering and the neighbors will stop visiting because our boys will give them the finger any time they wave. The feng shui in their homes will be doomed because everything they buy will be broken.
But, alas!!!! I have hope for my children’s future now, thanks to a new show on the History Channel, called Pawn Stars. I TiVo’d every episode of Pawn Stars. After each interaction with a customer, I hit pause and say, “Did you see that, boys? Did you see how he found out what the lady knows about the item first? This way he knows how low he can start the negotiations.”
The Dalai Lama walks into the store. He has an item that he has researched. But he’s moving and it’s heavy and he’s sick of moving it and tripping over it on his way to meditate. He wants to get rid of it. When it comes time to negotiate, they offer him less than half of its value. Unaccustomed to conflict, the Dalai Lama hesitantly counter offers. They counter offer. The Dalai Lama bows, settles and I hit pause.
“Did you see that boys? They don’t see ‘honesty, love and compassion personified’, therefore give him 10% less than what they can sell it for. They see ‘person who would find it easier to meditate if his toe wasn’t throbbing’, therefore lowball it.”
Another guy comes in. He’s desperate, twitchy. He needs fast cash for his grandfather’s WWII knives that he probably stole from his mom’s garage when he went over to borrow her lawn mower. He’s about to cry. I hit pause. “Did you see that boys? Those tears are part strategy and part the pickle he is in. He’s in big financial trouble if he’s pawning off his grandfather’s WWII knives.”
The negotiation is dramatic. There’s a lowball offer, a counter offer, another offer accompanied by an excuse why the broker can go no higher, a tearless counter offer mixed with gambling excitement as evidenced by the bulging blood vessels in his neck, followed by a very firm final offer that was lower than the broker’s last offer. You could cut the silence with a knife. I hit pause.
“Did you see that, boys? Did you see how final that final offer was? Then he backed away. Did you see his body language? Now look at the guy who is desperate for cash. He’s stumped. He went too far. I bet he doesn’t have the confidence to talk the pawn shop guy into upping his offer to his second to last offer that was higher than his last offer.” I hit play to watch the conclusion. “Nope. He didn’t negotiate back up. He lost that negotiation on technique, boys.”
The guys on Pawn Stars are negotiation ninjas unencumbered by rose-colored glasses or black and white moods, or silly little “do unto others as you would like them to do unto you” values. There’s nothing weak or wrong about the “do unto others” values. They have their place, but not in deals, like negotiating a salary or a grade or the price on a broken camera.
I have so much hope for my children’s future now. I see no signs or red flags to indicate that these guys wouldn’t be good role models, do you?