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Michael Wood and a sticker chart for listening (Image: Archi Banal)
Michael Wood and a sticker chart for listening (Image: Archi Banal)

PoliticsJune 7, 2023

What to do when your child (Michael Wood) just won’t listen

Michael Wood and a sticker chart for listening (Image: Archi Banal)
Michael Wood and a sticker chart for listening (Image: Archi Banal)

The former transport minister was asked 12 times to sell his Auckland Airport shares and didn’t do it. Emily Writes, a parent, knows exactly what that’s like.

It was revealed at question time today that now-former transport minister Michael Wood was asked 12 times by the cabinet office to sell his Auckland Airport shares. Today, my son, the Minister of Demanding I Cut His Honey Toast Into Diagonal Pieces, was asked seven times to put his shoes on. 

It made me realise that the parents of Aotearoa are uniquely qualified to give the cabinet office advice on how to deal with ministers who are largely unmoved when you say “I am not going to ask you again” before you ask them again.

So, here’s my advice, gleaned from a decade of my children vehemently and aggressively not listening to me when I ask them to put their plate in the dishwasher and/or pick up their bloody fluffing towel off the bathroom floor.

Michael Wood not listening (Image: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)

First, I would ask if the cabinet office considered telling Michael Wood they would “count to five”. When using the “count to five” technique it’s important you actually know what the punishment will be when you inevitably reach five. 

Will Michael Wood be sent to his room? Will he have no time on the Xbox? Will his play date with Grant Robertson be cancelled? If you don’t figure this out before you get to five (and believe me you will get to five) you’ll be stuck trying to figure out on the spot, while sleep deprived, what you’re meant to do.

If the counting to five doesn’t work (and it probably won’t), the cabinet office could also try a short time in. The time in is different to the time out because our generation of parents have listened to too many experts telling us we will ruin our kids’ lives if we give them the same discipline we had. A time in is exactly the same as a time out but on Instagram you say you did a time in instead of a time out so you don’t get judged. A home-made glittery sensory shaker timer for Michael Wood to hold while he has a five-minute time in might also help. This actually appears to be what Chris Hipkins has opted to do (for now).

If that doesn’t work (and it probably won’t), I suggest some gentle parenting. It’s important the cabinet office is on the same eye level as Michael Wood so there’s no parent/child imbalance. Explain to Michael Wood that even though you know his shares are special to him, and you know he loves his shares, he has to sell them. Offer a cuddle and see if he would like to swap his shares for something else, like a skateboard.

If gentle parenting doesn’t work, it might be time to bring in the big guns. Call Michael Wood’s nana. Bringing in a grandparent is a big deal but grandparents can give a unique perspective that parents can’t. The cabinet office may be able to get Michael Wood to sell his shares without even calling his nana. Just the threat of “Do you want me to call your nana and tell her you won’t sell your shares?” might be enough. It’s like the Old Days when they said “When your dad comes home…” except now dads know how to emotionally connect with their children so we don’t use it any more.

If the threat of Nana still doesn’t get Michael Wood to sell his shares, the cabinet office could try yelling. Yelling “For the love of God can you just sell your damn shares we are already late, and I don’t have time for this. ARE YOUR EARS PAINTED ON just sell your shares OK” will definitely not work but sometimes you just have to yell because YOU JUST HAVE TO.

If yelling doesn’t work, the cabinet office could use a sticker chart to support Michael Wood in working on his listening goals. Each time Michael Wood listens, he gets a gold star. He will inevitably decide that he’s no longer interested in the sticker chart and you’ll lament that you spent 20 fucking dollars on stickers.

My final suggestion is bribery. The cabinet office should tell Michael Wood that if he sells his shares he will get an extra 15 minutes playing Fortnight or one Lego set under $25.

If he still won’t listen….well, your guess is as good as mine.

Keep going!