She didn’t want to wait.
She wanted a treat NOW. Not later. Not after she finished her work. Not after session. Not after dinner.
She was NOT going to move, or sit, or come, or go, or climb the stairs, or listen, or ANYTHING until she got her treat.
Which she wanted NOW.
Making her wait was “mean.” It was “not fair” and “not nice.”
She wasn’t having any of it.
None of her mom’s cajoling. None of her mom’s reasoning. None of her mom’s threats of consequence or punishment or loss of playdate or no TV or no iPad or no … something … unless …
I heard them argue. They were still at the bottom of the stairs. Two frustrated voices. Volume rising.
I could visualize the little girl. Arms crossed and foot stamping and lips pursed out in a pout, jaw forward in clear dismay and stubborn determination. I’d seen her do the ‘you’re not gonna make me’ before.
“Upstairs!” The mom ordered, fed up. “Now!”
“You not waiting EITHER,” the child accused, sounding vindicated. “You say go upstairs NOW. I saying go to the store NOW. I want my treat NOW!”
“Don’t be cheeky!” Mom’s voice went up an octave.
“YOU not be cheeky!”
This was devolving. I walked downstairs toward them.
Red faces, one large, one smaller, looked up at me. One in exasperation, one in challenge and a touch of “yeah … so what are you gonna do about it?”
I smiled. “Seems like I’m the one whose waiting…”
The child frowned. This didn’t quite fit her script.
“I’m not going!” she huffed.
“She won’t come up,” the mom accused.
“I want a treat NOW!” the little one dug her heels.
“Oh boy,” I lowered myself onto one of the stairs. “Mind if I sit down? Seems like you’re a little stuck. Can you tell me what’s going on?”
“She won’t get me my treat/She won’t cooperate” They spoke together.
“Are you hungry?” I asked the girl.
She regarded me suspiciously. She knew me well enough .
I raised an eyebrow in question.
“Yeah!” she raised her chin accusingly. “And mommy said we can go to the store and get a treat and now she say go up NOW. I’m not!”
“There was lots of traffic,” the mom’s chin was only slightly less raised… “I told her if there’s a lot of traffic we may not have time to stop at the store.” She turned to the girl, “maybe next time you get your stuff faster so we won’t leave so late …”
The child’s face grew angrier. Couldn’t totally blame her … this was a bit low …
“Traffic can be tough in the city,” I intervened. “We can think together about some better planning for next time but now … we have a hungry child and no snack. Good thing I have some snacks upstairs. Shall we?” I got up and offered a hand to the child, eyed the mother meaningfully.
She understood. Stayed silent.
The child narrowed her eyes at me. “What treats you have?”
Bargaining. We’re making progress.
“I don’t know. I’ll have to check upstairs. Let’s go see.”
Eyes still narrow. “What if I don’t like them?”
“I guess we’ll have to see.” (I get really boring when I’m not going to say much more…)
“But I still get a treat after.” This was demand, not query.
“This is between mommy and you, but for now, lets get something into your belly so it isn’t hungry.” I moved my arm closer and she took it. We began climbing, mom trailing a few steps behind.
“Na’ama says I can still have my treat later,” the child swiveled her head back and declared to her mother. A little victoriously.
“This is between you and mommy,” I repeated, not quite able to keep the amusement out of my voice.
“Mommy promised me a treat,” she insisted, but her legs were still climbing so I knew she was only half-combative now, making conversation.
“Yes, you told me. Too bad there was so much traffic.”
“I don’t like traffic much.”
“Me too,” she sighed.
“Me three…” Mom piped up from behind.
The child stopped, turned, giggled. “That’s not how you say it!”
“I guess Na’ama will have to help me say things better?” Mom smiled back.
“Yeah!” she liked that. She climbed energetically up a few more stairs. “But …,” she paused again. “You going to have to wait …”