The sweat is pouring down my face and I can feel my calf muscles begin to burn. I have a puppet on one hand and a paper bag on my head. I’m bouncing Sage on my knees as she pretends to conduct an imaginary orchestra. “Faster,” she shouts, “faster!” And I obey the tiny maestro. “Bigger,” she shouts, “bigger!” And I lift my knees as high as they can possibly go. “Yeah,” shouts the conductor. And hearing her enthusiasm gives me a little surge of energy that will make it possible for me to continue this game just…a…little…bit…longer. “More,” she says, and I reach for the ipod and press repeat. The Black Eyed Peas begin once again… “I’ve got a feeling,” they sing. “You know… I’ve got a feeling, too,” I think to myself. “I’ve got a feeling that I have once again been convinced to do something exhausting and mildly painful. I’ve got a feeling I should stop.” But I don’t. I continue to bounce but now as my daughter pops into the air and giggles tirelessly I start to analyze the situation “How does she get me to do these things? What are her methods? How is it that this tiny being is so freakin’ convincing?”

I spend the next few days watching her extra close as she works her magic. I take note when she begins her negotiations. I log her tactics. I watch her use her skills on others. I see them cave. At the end of a weeklong intensive study I have a breakdown of how she works it. I number each of her methods and I see that she has four primary ways of getting what she wants. As I stare at this list it suddenly dawns on me that maybe these modes of persuasion can be repurposed. Maybe they can be put to use for the good of the country….for the good of all  humanity.

And so I am putting them out there for all to see. I am specifically hoping in fact that The President of The United States will read this and will learn a thing or two. Specifically I’m thinking he might adopt my daughter’s methods of persuasion as he attempts to get the Healthcare reform bill passed through congress. Seriously…Mr. President, you have tried everything else, what have you got to lose?

So here it is. Here’s how my daughter makes all her dreams come true. It’s a four-tiered approach and can be applied to any situation. Pay close attention (Mr. President).

#1. She breaks out “the cute”. I remember being at a park with her when she was about 16 months old (she is now two). There were about twenty people all sitting in lawn chairs in a big circle. Salsa music blasted from a large stereo and there was a buffet table full of food and presents. Bunches of birthday balloons hovered above the setup and seemed to be bobbing playfully to the music. It all made for a very festive and inviting feel.  So much so that Sage decided that she was invited to the party. She walked straight into the middle of the circle and started swaying her hips. Then she got her shoulders involved and began this little shrugging shimmying sort of dance. Before long she had the entire party clapping along and laughing in delight. Around this time I started noticing that every so often she’d stop and point to the balloons and shout “ball, ball” and pump her fists into the air. Then she’d go back to her wiggling and shimmying but with even more passion and vigor. After a few minutes of this routine one of the onlookers said, “I think the baby wants a balloon”.

“Yes,” another agreed. And they were off to find a pocketknife or pair of scissors to free one.  When they couldn’t find one they resorted to gnawing one loose with their teeth (That’s how much they wanted to please my kid). They walked right up to her and presented the gift that she had so coveted. But as soon as they dangled the string towards my daughter’s hands she stopped dancing.  She ceased her festive clapping and her smile vanished. She was all business. She grabbed hold of that balloon and bolted as fast as Secretariat running for the Triple Crown. She had gotten what she came for. She had charmed the crowd. She had prevailed. Nothing more was required of these partygoers.

*Note to Mr. President: I in no way expect you to be as cute as my daughter. We must be realistic. But you have your own version of charm and it is quite astonishing. Use it! And maybe re-circulate those pictures from your vacation in Hawaii- very nice, very cute!!

#2. She empowers the people. You’ll just be doing something together and she’ll pause as if you guys are mid conversation and YOU, not she, just thought up some brilliant plan. Like the other day, a sitter came back from a walk with her and reported that at one point Sage just looked up at her and said “Oh…you…you want a muffin?…OK.” And guess what? They turned around and got a muffin. Genius! And she’s done this with me too. Sometimes we’ll be lying in bed and she’ll say something like… “Oh Elmo…Elmo soo funny. Lalalala Elmo’s World. Sing that mommy (I do). Oh, you wanna watch Elmo’s World…?Yea? That’s good mommy! We could do that! We could watch Elmo.”

*Note to Mr. President: I know you can rock this one. Back during your campaign we all felt like WE were standing in the spotlight right along with you; you brought us in, you empowered us. Just plant the seed, water it, and give some other dude the satisfaction of thinking that it’s his flower. It will be worth it. My daughter did indeed get Elmo’s World.

#3. She hypnotizes. Now this one is new and it still has a few flaws but give Sage a few more months and she’ll have it down. She looks you dead in the eyes and just sort of chants her request. Like she’ll say “boobies yes, boobies yes, boobies yes.” Until suddenly you find yourself nodding along and saying “boobies yes, boobies yes” and before you know it you are unbuttoning your shirt and whipping out the boobies. “I mean boobies NO” you squeak at the last minute as you come out of the trance but it is too late. She has latched on.

*Note to Mr. President: This is totally a good one for you. I mean don’t go stealing my daughters catch phrase “boobies yes” it is not likely to win many people over to your side, but “yes we can” certainly worked for you. So grab a pen and start playing with good healthcare reform phrases, you’ll have them signing their names in no time!

#4. She embraces the balls-out tantrum. I don’t have to say much about this one. We’ve all seen them, we’ve all heard the astonishing lung power of a toddler in need. We’ve witnessed the violent thrashing about. We’ve felt the floor shake as tiny fists pound tirelessly away.

*Note to Mr. President: Now this one does not actually work on me. Because I know that if I fold to a tantrum just once I’ll be toast for all eternity. But if you can get it to work on congress…think of the possibilities… I mean, talk about filibuster proof, try getting even one sentence out when you’ve got someone writhing and screaming on the floor. So…if you want to end a debate, if you want to just make everyone so desperate to get out of the room that they will literally sign anything-throw a tantrum. I know you have two children, you’ve seen how they go down, and you’ve felt the furry. Now own it. Make it yours!

**And one more thing….do it quickly.  I am an inch away from not being able to afford healthcare for my family (toddler included). Warning: I’m bringing her down to Washington if this goes on much longer and SHE will have a word with congress!!