7 July 2003
9 December 2013
25 February 2014
12 March 2014
12 July 2013
12 March 2014
Deminimus hasn't quite recovered from missing out on a commendation at his school's recent prizegiving. "But last year I got the science prize," he sobbed, unable to get past the unfairness of a system that gives you a reward one year but not the next, even though you're the same person.
Of course, you have two strategies when your children fail to pass exams or win prizes: there's the "what a bunch of swindlers" approach (which is the one their fathers favour), or my own long-drawn-out counselling sessions, which nudge them towards accepting that "life is tough and you can't win all the time", while understanding that "instead of surfing the net for downloadable thrash music, you could have actually opened your textbooks" is fair comment and not heinous accusation.
Wouldn't it be great if lawyers could be comforted like children? My husband would come home, his bottom lip stuck out far enough to put a cup of tea on, saying "wah, wah, why won't they give me equity?" or "wah, wah, why didn't I win the presentation?", and I could make him his favourite tea, stick in a video and say: "You know, honey, not everyone gets to be top of the class,"; or "It just couldn't happen, could it?", and he'd snuggle up with a Milky Way and it would all be forgotten in the morning. In fact, we say far more grown-up things to our children than we do to our partners. To my husband I have to say that he should have won and that the appraisal panel must have been made up of blind, three-legged donkeys. Or that it's an absolute scandal that he's not on the management team, when I know that no department which fails to make budget five years in a row is ever going to send a partner up to the top table.
And so it was a very grumpy family I took to the park on Sunday afternoon. "You know, I think I've got this negotiation stuff all wrong," said the Lawyer, as he watched Liability throw herself on the ground and start screaming. "I mean, if it was me, and I was in a meeting, I'd be suggesting we come to some sort of service agreement on using the swings, with delineated usage periods and maximum swapover times; and I'd push hard for longer swing times for my side and then the other side would walk out in protest and the whole thing would take hours."
He watched in admiration as Liability's screams reached such a pitch that she drove fainter-hearted children off the swings and claimed her place, smiling angelically. A few parents cast dark looks upon me but I don't notice them anymore: I spent my entire childhood getting off the swings for other people and the one lesson I try to teach my children is to get on as quickly as possible and stay on as long as they like. If you can't win at school, win at the playground, I say.
In fact, perhaps the Lawyer should try Liability's approach, and throw himself on the floor screaming the next time negotiations get rough. Hardline opponents would just tough it out, and might even dump the contents of the water jug on him, but most people can't stand the sight of a wailing two-year-old, let alone a wailing, fully-grown lawyer messing up his £500 suit on the floor, so they'd squat down and say: "Yes, sweetie, you can have whatever you want."
He'd probably get a packet of Smarties into the bargain.