Let’s make a deal

By Mir
March 16, 2009

I am a deal-maker. I don’t know why. It’s just something I’m prone to, and always have been—I can’t even blame it on the kids.

Life is one big if-then statement, in my world.

And sometimes it makes sense, I guess. Some things do logically follow from others, or at least relate to others. But some things aren’t even slightly related until I decide that they should be. Other things are related but acted upon in a less-than-logical manner.

I may need some sort of support group. Convoluted Conclusions Anonymous, or something.

Clearly I need to demonstrate with some examples, because all of these theoreticals are making my head hurt.

Okay. So. Let’s take a look at at a perfectly logical instance:

If you take good care of your library books, and keep track of them, then I will take you back to the library next week for more books.

This makes sense. This is an iron-clad example of how to do it right, right? One thing leads to another, good behavior is rewarded, etc. Awesome.

Then there’s something like this:

If you are able to get your booster shots without screaming bloody murder, then I will allow you to get your ears pierced.

At first blush, I thought this was perfectly reasonable; SOMEONE is needle-phobic yet wants pierced ears, and said SOMEONE is due for some immunizations. I’ve never owned a cat, so I can’t say for SURE that taking this particular child for shots is as bad as trying to, say, shove a wet cat into a car carrier, but I’m guessing it probably is. Shots are generally accompanied by much crying and carrying on, and given the proximity of the doctor’s appointment to when the ear-piercing is due to occur, I thought this was a perfectly logical deal to extend. Show me some maturity and restraint at the first event, and you’ll be allowed access to the second one.

Smart, right?

I was feeling pretty smug, right up until I realized that I had, essentially, informed my child that if she didn’t complain too much about having something sharp stabbed into her arm, I would give her permission to have someone shoot holes in her head.


I’m not any better about it when I’m the target of my awesome deals, either.

If I exercise, then I get to have cookies!

Yeah. Um. That seems fine, except that the main goal here is to get healthier, and if every time I exercise, I then reward myself with sugar… yeah. And I wonder why this whole “getting fit” thing seems not to be working out all that well.


If my neck continues to hurt for an entire week, then I will attempt to find a chiropractor to see about it.

Again, initially this seemed very reasonable. I don’t need to go the first second I feel a twinge, right? On the other hand, I do have a chronic neck injury which was previously greatly helped via chiropractic care, even though the previous chiropractor did turn out to be kind of creepy.

Anyway, by the time my neck has hurt for an entire week, I’m in agony, I’m cranky, and all I want is an appointment IMMEDIATELY. But of course, I don’t know who to see. So I have to do research. And I have to get a referral from my stupid insurance. And by the time it’s all straightened out, I have recommendations for half-a-dozen local chiropractors, but I’ve decided on the one closest to my house (whom no one has recommended). Because I no longer care.

It may be time for a new paradigm. As soon as my neck is feeling better.


  1. susie

    If at the end of the day my children are still in one piece, then I get to have a glass of wine. I think this is totally logical!

  2. exile on mom street

    If I save lots of money by clipping coupons and shopping for deals, then I get new shoes!

    Really, this works beautifully…

  3. Randi

    If you build it, THEY will come.

    That’s as deep as I can get on a Monday morning sans coffee…

  4. bob

    Life is one big if-then statement, in my world

    IT geek?

    my problem is that my if-then statements are expanded by else-if’s.

    if I exercise then I get a cookie,
    else if I don’t exercise then my neck doesn’t get worse
    else if my neck didn’t hurt then I could exercise
    where did the cookies go?

  5. Otto

    OOOOhhhh!!! I like this game!

    IF I successfully install a hitch on the truck without crushing myself, THEN we get to buy a camper.

    IF I take nice, sharp photos of the kidlets, THEN I get to buy a new Leica camera.

    IF I keep my workshop clean, THEN I get to have a bigger one.

    IF I make one more IF/THEN statement, THEN I get to take you to dinner.

    IF … ummm … darnit … I’m all out …


  6. Megan

    So, what does it make someone who… let’s just say… sort of skips the if and leaps right into the then? IE

    Then I get a new mac book!
    Then I also install CS4
    Then I should probably be allowed some nice new lenses



  7. linda sands

    Sounds like you were meant to write children’s books.
    or porn.

  8. Lylah

    My if/then statements always seem to require an extra “BUT INSTEAD” and “OR” clause…

    If I stay up late writing tonight, then I can do the cleaning and clearing out I need to do before the home inspector guy comes tomorrow BUT INSTEAD I will come down with a cold and not be able to stay up late OR get the cleaning done.

    If I make a good number of meals in advance and stash them in the freezer, then I won’t have to deal with last-minute cooking during the week BUT INSTEAD no one will want to eat what’s already cooked OR I’ll forget all the food is in the freezer.

    Can’t win… might as well take my ball and go home (BUT INSTEAD have a glass of wine)!

  9. kate wang

    ROFL @ linda sands!

  10. kate wang

    Also, LOL @ Otto, who is starting to sound like he has woman-parts because of all the rationalizing of theoretical purchases, there…

  11. Niki

    I’m working with one of those myself right now.

    IF I lose 5 lbs., THEN I get to buy yarn.
    Of course, I just got back from a trip in which I purchased said yarn (35 lbs. worth – not 35 lbs., but enough to reward myself 7 times), however, today I gave it to a friend to parcel out to me only when I lose the weight.

    How’s that for convoluted? And I must add – I totally agree with the shots/ear piercing deal, even if it sounds crazy to you. It’s a totally reasonable deal.

  12. Tracy

    Hope you feel better soon. I’m looking forward to the new paradigm.

  13. Melissa

    Wait, is this wrong, somehow? This is my operating system!

  14. Aimee

    See, I don’t really see anything wrong with the shots/ear piercing thing. You, quite reasonably, don’t want to take her to get her ears pierced if she is going to shriek like a banshee and end up with only one ear pierced, or with two holes that don’t line up, etc. She HAS to get the shots, so it’s a good test. Maybe tht makes me mean, but there you go.

    The neck thing, though? You need to work on that one.

  15. tuney

    OTTO! Your last If/Then should be, “IF I hadn’t married the smart, pretty Mir, THEN I would be an unhappy bachelor.”


  16. tuney

    OR..If I take my smart beautiful wife to dinner, THEN I get “dessert” later!


  17. Katie in MA

    Wait, I’m still waiting for the examples that were supposed to prove that something was wrong with your thinking. Because those all sound pretty logical to me. :) I’m just saying…exercising AND eating a cookie is a lot better than eating a cookie and NOT exercising. Right?

    Who can argue with that logic??

  18. Barbara

    IF you continue to use bandaid treatement for a lifestyle problem you will continue to need bandaid treatment.

    Not much different from the undoing of “If I exercise, then I get to have cookies!”

  19. MomCat

    My usual is “IF I ignore this problem, THEN it will go away…” I’m a slow learner.

  20. Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

    This is pretty much how I operate, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you calling me dysfunctional?

    I hope your neck feels better soon!

  21. Rori Raye

    Bargaining. I love that you brought this to the surface, because it just felt like I do this underground…if I clean off the kitchen counter, then I can read a book. If I make the bed, then I can go read my email. If I work like a demon and make lots of money, I can rest…somewhere…where people will take care of me. If I take care of everybody else, it’s okay for me to take care of me…only by then I’ve forgotten how! Lovely post, thank you, Rori Raye

  22. Tracey

    It’s always good to know that there are people all over the world who work on the same sets of self-bargaining (yet occasionally faulty) logic. (like the exercise and eating one.)

    My ear piercing deal with my girls has been a triumph though. 15, 13 and 10, and none have holes in their bodies. Yet.

    “You can get your ears pierced as long as IF/WHEN they get infected you deal with it yourself and don’t ask me to help.”

  23. Brigitte

    I usually line up at least several IFs before the THEN, making mine pretty much never-gonna-happen, hypothetical, pointless thought exercises.

  24. margie

    i always lived by the mantra “is this the hill i want to die on?” as far as i was concerned. i was a deal maker with the kids because 90% of the time it was not a big deal. but i always reminded them that when i said no, i was calling in a card.

  25. Laura

    OMG a whole heard of IT geeks!

    I make deals with my six year old, my husband, myself ALL THE TIME. I never put that together that I was using my programming skills. I always thought it the frustrated lawyer in me. :) If I can make it a win-win situation, I can usually sell it.

  26. ImpostorMom

    Mine go something like this…

    if you take two more bites of your food then you can have some pudding

    if you clean up your toys then we can read a book

    And then I have a lot of these as well…

    you better get over here to wash your hands before three or you’re getting a time out

    stop crying and pitching a fit or you’re going to loose

    Those aren’t so much if/then statements but same vein I suppose.

    Also, sounds like it’s too late but I have a chiropractor recommendation for you :)

  27. ImpostorMom

    that’s sposta say “stop crying and pitching a fit or you’re going to loose (insert name of stuffed animal)”

    silly HTML brackets

  28. kate

    bargaining is the foundation of parenting. And it works everytime (yeah right) regardless of how correlated everything is. In fact, at our house every if: if you pick up teh toys, if you stop screaming, if you stop driving me absolutely berserck for ten minutes so I can check my dam email already, seriously I would have been done if you weren’t bugging me! – each of these is met with the very same then: you will get blueberries. And frankly I don’t know why this even works because they get blueberries all the time anyway, but it almost always does. Of course, said bad behavior typically resumes once the blueberries have been consumed, not to mention all of the ifs that come up like “if you don’t stop pouring those blueberries on the floor…”, but hey, nothing is infallible.

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