“If you listen and follow me, then I will give it to you,” I said.

We were in a parking lot, at the edge of a wooded area with a short and shaded trail. It should have been perfect for my young hikers who were already protesting exercise in the heat.

I held a single wrapped, green lifesaver.

“I promise, just give me that green thing,” Little Legs begged.

Baby Brother raised his arms up, “Mine.”

It was impossible to promise the candy to one boy and not the other, so I renegotiated the conditions.

“If you both listen and follow me, then I will break this in half, and you can each have a piece.”

Surprisingly, they both nodded in equal agreement.

Inwardly, I laughed as the ease of the negotiation. All I needed was a pack of lifesavers and I could motivate my sons to do anything. I thought we could tackle a trip to Kohl’s, visit their great-grandparents and maybe even get some yard work done.

We set off on our walk, three brave explorers filled with the promise of candy and good behavior, which lasted about one minute before they began their end-the-walk initiative by alternately crying and sitting on the path, refusing to take another step, like two stubborn, coordinated mules.  

No one got the lifesaver.  

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