By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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I think I’ve decided on my second career.

At this point in mid-life, many folks, after years of soul-searching, decide to embark on secondary careers in which they explore skills and interests they’ve long had but which have taken a back seat as daily life commanded center stage.

My new career? Diplomatic negotiator.

I realized that I’m pretty good at it, as evidenced by an exchange which took place between my husband and our daughter as the three of us sat in our family room last week.

“So Dad, what do you think about all of this?” Laura asked.

Dave put down his newspaper as his head whipped towards me, his face a mixture of panic and confusion. “Why? What did Mom say I thought about it?” he asked, clearly terrified at the idea of voicing an opinion on our daughter’s latest crisis.

“What did Mom say you thought about it? What the heck does that mean? And why do you always look at Mom before you answer me? Oh, forget it. I’m going out. Dad, when Mom lets you know what you think, we’ll talk,” Laura said, heading out the door.

I stared at my husband. “What was that all about?” I asked.

“It was a survival technique that I’ve practiced for a long time; I just don’t usually say it out loud,” Dave answered.

“Survival technique? What do you mean?” I said.

“I have learned, over 25 years of regularly getting into trouble, to check with you before I deliver any opinions on anything involving the girls. When something’s going on, I try and have a private conversation with you before I say anything to them. That way, you can fill me in on the back story. I run what I really think by you, you edit it, and then I know what to say to avoid World War III when asked for an opinion. This time, Laura caught me off guard. I didn’t have a chance to have you parse my statement before I made it,” Dave elaborated.

“You have come out with some unedited classics over the years, I’ll give you that,” I said, remembering lines like Where’s the rest of that dress? What do you need all of those shoes for? and my personal favorite, I don’t know what you ever saw in that goofball, anyway. “I suppose I have mastered the delicate art of daughterly détente, as much as it can be mastered, that is.”

“Nobody does it better, at least in this house. And every time I venture out on my own, it’s a disaster. Better to fine-tune the script before the show,” Dave said, returning to his paper.

So I think it’s time to share my skill set. With all of the upheaval in the world, I figure my negotiating prowess will keep me in high demand, defusing tense situations, brokering diplomatic agreements and generally making the world a safer place.

The way I see it, dealing with terrorists will be a cake walk compared to maintaining the peace between two occasionally unhappy daughters and their very frightened father.

How are your “negotiating” skills? Click “comments” below, and share!