A Daddy’s Negotiation

When I was in high school, I used to attend a cram school taking extra lessons in science subjects to enhance my overall study progress. A few evenings a week, after my regular school classes, I travelled to my cram school near the train station and attended the lectures.

The teachers I had at the cram school were all wonderful both in terms of their knowledge and their personalities, and I always looked forward to attending these evening classes. My physics teacher in particular had a wonderful story-telling skill. After the breaktime, he always shared some interesting story from his life to entertain us before diving into the second half of the lesson.

At the time, his daughter was about two years old. He was a very actively involved parent, and on his off days, he often went out to a nearby park to play with his daughter.

One fine weekend, he and his daughter were playing in the park as usual. In the sandpit, there were several other little children accompanied by their mothers. After some time, a group of teenage girls came to the park and started to make loud noises. A tension rippled across the faces of the mothers in the sandpit. They didn’t want to have such loud noises around their precious daughters and sons. The teenagers’ presence almost felt like a threat to their innocent toddlers.

My physics teacher and his daughter were the only ones who were unaffected by this whole event and continued to play happily – until the mothers’ whispering voice reached my teacher’s ears.

“I wonder why he’s not moving.” One mother said, frowning her face.

“That’s right. He’s a father. He should go and talk to them so that they will stop making that noise!”

My teacher tried to ignore all the signals sent to him by the mothers, but finally, they were too much to bear. He stood up with his daughter in his arm, and walked over to the group of teenage girls, not sure what exactly he was supposed to do. The moment he approached them, the girls tensed and showed a rebellious attitude.

“Hi guys,” my teacher started talking to the girls with a smile on his face. “What a fine day it is today! Are you guys having fun?”

The girls were silent. They didn’t think there was anything much to be said about the topic.

Looking at their cold reaction, my teacher thought of another way to open a conversation.

“You see those little kids playing in the sandpit?” He pointed to the other side of the park. The girls nodded. At this point, they were all looking down, annoyed, thinking that he was going to complain about their behaviours like many other adults.

My teacher sensed the delicate situation and decided to approach this conversation strategically. As he looked at the girls, he noticed that they were wearing school sport uniforms with their names on their chests. He had an idea.

“Alice,” he pointed to one girl. The girl was startled to be addressed by her name and looked up. “Tell me, how do you think those mothers with little toddlers feel about hearing loud noises next to them?”

“Not good,” the girl replied.

“I see,” said my teacher thoughtfully. “Now, Betty,” he pointed to another girl. She also looked up, alarmed. “Imagine and tell me the feeling of an only father in the playground who is forced by the mothers to come to you and complain about the noise on behalf of them?”

The moment he said it, the girls let out a small laugh. The battle is over, thought my teacher, I won.

“So, would you be so kind to tone down your voices a bit and spare this poor father the nerve-wrecking task of being a middleman?”

The girls laughed and gladly agreed to reduce their volume, and my teacher walked back to the sandpit in peace. All the mothers cheered upon his return. Suddenly, he was now a hero who conquered the teenagers.