Dinner Table Diplomacy: A Tale of Tactics and Negotiation

The field outside the fortress had been soaked with a long summer rain. Muddy footprints outlined the path to the gate. There were three sets, mine, my fellow general’s, and those of our captured adversary. We had been tasked with the long term mission of keeping this inmate healthy, and turning her into a productive member of society. Some days, the project seemed almost doable, this was not one of those days…

Inside, we sat around the war table. Negotiations had stalled, and our foe showed no sign of breaking. My fellow general and I exchanged nuanced glances. We were impressed with her fortitude, but this wasn’t our first rodeo either. There was no avoiding the fact that a long night had just begun. 
The restless quiet was pierced by a sudden demand…
“I WANT MORE JUICE!” our captive shouted.
“I need you to eat before I get you more juice…” I countered. Although, I knew very well that we had only begun the long dance of acceptable terms.
“I JUST WANT JUICE! I’M NOT HUNGRY!”
“You have to eat so you can get big and strong.” I attempted an appeal to logic, but I knew it was a long shot at best.
“I DON’T NEED TO EAT! I JUST NEED JUICE!”

“I need you to have nine big bites first…” my fellow general had made the first real offer. She was wise in starting with a large number, because we both knew it would be debated and adjusted over the next few minutes. 

“No! I want juice… and I want to watch Blues’ Clues!” A shrewd counter attack. Frankly, I was impressed at the gutsy addition of demands in the middle of negotiations.
“Nine Bites, and you can have a cup of juice and watch ONE episode before story time and bed!” I had responded, looking to my partner to make sure I had not overextended our offer. Luckily, my partner seemed accepting of this deal.
“FIVE BITES!” We were finally getting to the heart of it all.
“Seven bites… and two have to be vegetables.” General Mommy was firm in her final offer.
Our little rival seemed to be seriously considering the offer. The room became tense as we awaited her response.
“Oooooooooooooooooook… 7 bites, then Juice and Blues’ Clues.” She announced with at least a moderate disposition of contentedness.
An accord had been reached, but we knew that was only step one. Our adversary lowered her spoon to her plate and carefully placed half a grain of rice upon it.
“Is thissssss a ‘big bite’ Daddy?”
Our battle had just begun…

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