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manipulate - vb: to negotiate, control or influence (something or someone) cleverly, skillfully, or deviously.

My kids are masters at building manipulation tactics that work brilliantly when dealing with me. As many of you know, I have the man-boy, who is turning 18 in a few weeks, and the baby girl, who is a three-year-old toddler dictator. Each kid has their own distinct personality traits, and manipulation styles. Both of which have proven very successful - much to my dismay most of the time!

My Son - The Charmer. Man-boy has had the same consistent style of manipulation since he was little. He's smooth. He's gentle. He bats his eyes and gives a sheepish grin. And, he wins - every time. He knows exactly how to handle his mother. For example, I'll be fuming mad at him for something he's done that I don't agree with - not taking out the trash, leaving food in the living room, staying out too late, not checking in when I expect him to, or not managing his money and then constantly bumming money off of me. I'll get myself totally worked up and ready to let him have it and then, all of a sudden, he gives me "the look." His big brown eyes start to widen and he tilts his head and says, "Mom... you are so beautiful. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, beautiful mother and all of my friends think you are the best. It really makes me proud to be your son and I just thought I'd tell you that today." Ugh. Whatcha gonna do? I find myself exhaling and all my anger just melts away. My response is usually, "Oh that is so sweet Man-Boy. How much money did you need for the movies tonight?"

Sucked in. Every time. He calls his tactic, "Taming the Beast," and actually that is pretty accurate. When the mama is beast-like, a little sweetness takes care of the problem every time and the mama's wallet magically opens. I instantly forget why I was mad in the first place.

My Daughter - The Dictator. Baby girl's style is completely opposite of her brother's style. She is a brute. She bull-dog's her way to get what she wants. She is extremely controlling and strong-willed. Baby girl doesn't mess around with the sweet-talking charms her brother utilizes. She demands what she wants and gains momentum the longer it takes for her to get it. I remember when she was a little over a year old and was waking up in the middle of the night wanting to be fed. Her pediatrician told me it was vital that I didn't continue to give her the feedings because she was old enough to start sleeping through the night. He said if I didn't stand my ground, she would develop bad habits. His words exactly were, "Mom. It's a battle of the wills. You just have to figure out who has the stronger will."

That answer was easy. She did! I would let her cry with the hopes she'd wear herself out and go back to sleep. But all that would happen was her momentum got stronger and stronger. She could cry for hours to the point of turning red and sweating because she was so pissed at me. Her adrenaline kicked in and I swear it was like Darth Vader took over. Finally, I would give in and do what she wanted to calm her down.

She still has the same strong will that she had as an infant. She wants what she wants and when she wants it.

Both kids have such distinct personalities - which are completely different from one another. I can see that my son will go through life as the charmer he has always been. Everyone loves him and he's always been very popular with his peers and the parents of his peers. He is compassionate and sweet. He's also always working an angle, but no one really knows it because he's so smooth. In other words, he gets what he wants but other people don't realize that he manipulated the situation to his benefit. I'm thinking sales or public relations will be a good route for his career path.

With baby girl, all I can say is, "Oh Lawdy! Good luck to any man who comes into her life!!!" He is certainly going to have to learn how to "tame the beast" when she gets her mind set on something. She is a born leader, for sure. I can envision her running a business or perhaps, ruling the world like a Power Puff girl. Whatever she does as an adult, she'll be in control of it as well as everyone around her.

Both kids have a little bit of me in them - the good, the bad, the ugly! But, at least in my world, I think it's just about perfect. At the very least, we certainly know how to deal with each other.

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