The 20 useless responses to “I don’t wanna go to school”

August 7, 2014

Dear Max

There are things that I think I do well’ish as a parent – I can make a decent hot chocolate, read a bedtime story with genuine enthusiasm and find you good apps, among some other things.

But if there’s something I grapple with, it’s “hostage negotiation”, which is what I call a situation in which a child doesn’t want to do what they’re told, or asked to do. There are lots of non-negotiable things that I’m quite tough with, for example saying please and thank you, and not pulling the cats’ tails or riding the dog like a horse.

But there are times where I don’t have the heart, patience, time and inclination to negotiate, like bathing, for example (PS: I don’t think not bathing every night has hurt you in any way; in fact, you’ve remained cold- and flu-free this whole year).

And then there’s the school issue. Some mornings you’ll willingly go to school, other mornings you flatly refuse to go. Part of me wants to say “No problem, let’s both stay in and watch Pixar movies, and drink hot chocolate and then read Dr Seuss”. But since you actually love school when you’re there, and since I fear that every day could become a request for Pixar, hot chocolate and Dr Seuss, and since we’re paying good money for a good “education”, when you don’t wanna go, we embark on a morning negotiation.

The things I’ve sometimes said, mostly in desperation, mostly with no results, and mostly once off as since you didn’t buy them the first time, there’s no way you will succumb a second time:

– Let’s go to school and we can explain to your teachers why you don’t want to be there

– I won’t get you any more Lego if you don’t go

– You won’t be able to buy your own Lego since you won’t have an education

– Let’s just get in the car and discuss something else, like your birthday party

– Let’s just get in the car and discuss something else, like your birthday cake

– I’m going to tell daddy that you won’t go to school

– If you don’t go to school you won’t be a doctor

– If you don’t go to school you won’t be a fireman

– We will probably go to jail as it’s a law to go to school. Sadly, they don’t serve sushi in jail. Nor Lego.

– There might be a birthday ring at school today

– We can go for sushi after school

– I will get you Lego if you go to school every day this week

– Please go. Please

– Levi and Jonathan are at school. They want to be smart one day

– Max, I beg you

– If you aren’t happy I will fetch you (PS: this has never ever happened. See, you really like school)

– Okay, fine. See you later (this has never worked – you always say “bye” to this line)

– I’m counting up to five and you need to get in the car (this is possibly the most futile negotiation as you don’t like pressure, least of all time pressure)

– There’s no excuse not to go

– What am I going to tell your teachers? They’ll be so sad


It’s hard to “negotiate” with you sometimes, little dude. Look at this face, after all…

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1 Comment

  • Heather

    I’d be interested to know what worked in the end!

    August 7, 2014 at 5:03 pm Reply
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