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Like all children, one of the first things I learned is that parents were putty in our hands. Even at a very young age, we realised that being cute and batting our eyelids can perform miracles.

From the time we were in the cradle, we quickly spotted that a coo or a little smile; a chubby little hand reaching out to touch them; a cry or whimper ; all would achieve the intended result: we would be held, comforted and fussed over.

Job done.

 Yeah, well OK it is my theme song - Shaydee Lane. I had Dad at the get-go. He was a goner the minute I was born. A pity Redhead didn't fall for it... but that is next weekend's story

It was so simple really. Want a snack? Give a plaintiff little sob and Mummy would be there with milk and a warm embrace.

At the beginning, it was instinctive. But, by the time we were 4 or 5 years old, we had learned that this could be used to our very distinct advantage.

Particularly – if we were a girl - with our Daddys. For boys, oh boy, did it work well with our Mums.

Parents are suckers for a well-timed kiss or little arms wrapped loving around them in a warm embrace.


Even Santa was fair game to our sneaky plans.

You want that new dolly? That new toy car? Tell him you love him and bingo – the present was pretty much gift wrapped and on its way from the North Pole.

By the time we got to our teenage, we had perfected the art. It took a very astute parent to work out that it was no longer cute, but had morphed into something more powerful: we had been manipulating them and they were starting to wise up.



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In my case, I still had the ability to “ con “ my father, but Mum was onto me and quickly wised him up. My brothers had also learned that Mum was far too cluey and perceptive to be fooled by our childhood manoeuvrings. In short, the gig was up and the good times were over.

Why am I telling you this story?

Oh, for a very good reason.

You see, a friend of mine has a 12 year old son. He has a winning smile; an eager and loving heart; a dutiful and loyal personality. He studies hard, plays sports well and is in general one of the nicest lads that you would have the pleasure of meeting.

But right now, he is having a go at seeing if he still holds the Midas touch when it comes to getting the gold from Mama and getting, what we parents and grandparents call “ his way. “

And it’s all because he wants a dog.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe that every boy needs a dog and every dog needs a boy.

Mr Peabody and Sherman

But life isn’t what it was all those years ago. Times have changed.

People don’t always live in a free standing family home with a quarter acre block. Mum’s aren’t home all day keeping the home fires burning. Kids don’t play backyard cricket after school and they aren’t exactly familiar with the reality of pet ownership.

As a kid, we had to feed the chickens and collect the eggs.

If you grew up in the country, you knew all about things like ticks or the importance of hygiene when it came to handling animals.

We didn’t go swimming or playing sports before school or after school.

In short, our lives were completely different.

But this lad is hell bent on getting a dog and he is determined to wear his mother down and get her to say those most dangerous words : “ if that will keep you happy. “


The minute she does that, she is doomed.

Doomed to a life of being manipulated by a young man who is testing the waters on how to get his way by using the same tactics that have served him so well for over a decade.

A well placed tear leaking out of a sad little eye. A desperate plea, hug and a good dose of begging and a smile that lights up every time he sees a dog playing in the park across the road from his apartment building.

But these up and coming teenagers are like politicians: give them an inch and they will take a mile.

Before she knows it, my friend will be getting up at 5am to walk the dog and coming home from work at 6pm and taking the dog for another walk… because “ sonny Jim “ will be playing cricket or blowing on his tuba or doing his homework and too busy to take “ Skip “ for a toilet and exercise walk .

Home Alone 

It will be Mum who is paying the food bill, the vet bills, and fielding the complaints from the other unit owners about the dog howling all day when she is at work and little Sonny Jim is at school.

More importantly, she will have unleashed a monster: a young man who has learned that he can control his mother and, with some well timed tears or threats, get his way.

Years ago, I heard of a man who was about to go for a drive with his son who had recently obtained his license.

The father got in the back seat and sat behind his son who was sitting in the driver’s seat.

The son asked him why he was sitting there. The father replied

“ because I have waited 17 years to do this “ and promptly started kicking the back of the drivers seat.


How many of us can identify with that?

My own daughter, now in her almost 50’s, has a daughter. Her daughter is now in her 20’s. One of the best days of my life was when she said to me, ( when her daughter was about 14 ) “ Mum, I am so sorry. “

I asked her “ For what? “

She replied “ For what I put you through. “

It was a happy moment.

For, indeed, she had put me through a lot.

But I never gave in to the threats, the sobs, the tantrums or the hysterics.

I was married to a police officer in those days and I once put a police crime scene tape over her bedroom door after I had upended all her bedding and clothing into a big heap on the bedroom floor.

I posted a sign on the door

“ Enter at your own risk. Health Hazard. “


After protestations that it was child abuse she entered the room, cleaned it up and did that awful thing that teenagers hate so much… she “ did as she was told. “

She is now a well adjusted and successful human being who has just submitted her thesis for a PhD. Something I did doubt for a few years, to be honest.

You see, kids need to know that wanting and getting are two different things.

It is up to the grownups to learn to say that simple yet powerful word.

“ NO.”

So back to the boy with the dog.

Does his Mum want him to have a dog? Of course she does.

Does she believe he can have a dog?

Of course he can’t.

The moral of the story?

You can’t always get what you want.

And what that boy needs, he has in abundance.

The sooner our politicians and bureaucrats learn that, the better. Hell, they might even grow up. Because, at the moment, they are running roughshod over us and we need to let them know who the REAL boss is. 

 In 20 years, I wonder how we will feel about what we got?  It wasn't what we wanted, and it most certainly wasn't what we needed. 

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