Not long ago Trevor decided to sell some of his Wii video games on Craigslist and offered to trade them for Magic: The Gathering cards. Soon after posting, a young man called saying he had lots of cards and would love to make a deal. He and Trevor went at it on the phone multiple times before I finally was brought in to make the rendezvous at a town some distance from our house. Because I knew Trevor had put a lot of time into the transaction, and really wanted to trade, I agreed to a meeting at Burgerville. If I was going to drive that far, at least I was going to get me one of their Spicy Anasazi Bean burgers (oh so tasty!). When we arrived, the young man was waiting for us. He was mid-20s and seemed nice enough. We all sat down and he and Trevor continued their negotiations from over the phone. As a father I felt some sense of responsibility protecting my son from an older kid, who I suspected was not entirely altruistic in his trading motivates. But after about twenty minutes watching the two of them go at it, I realized Trevor hardly needed my help!
He was a fierce negotiator, far beyond my own abilities. His skills were methodical and calculated. As piles of cards and video games were moved about on the table, I could almost see his mind at work. He would add up values of different trading configurations, and then throw out offers until I sensed the young man was getting worn down. Long after I had finished my burger and was ready to leave, Trevor still had his eye on the prize. I knew we were getting close when the young man pulled a twenty dollar bill out of his pocket to sweeten the deal for Trevor. Finally, after close to an hour, the two shook hands and we left.
As we drove off, Trevor grasping his new cards, a satisfied smile spread across his face. He knew he had done well. And as I suspected, later that night we discovered the videos back on Craigslist for more money. At first Trevor was a bit irritated, but then understood it was all business and just because they were up for more dough, was no guarantee they would sell.
While Trevor learned some valuable lessons from the experience, I too learned that being a father sometimes means letting go, and trusting my kid can take care of himself.