My Son, the Pitchman

Posted on: August 12th, 2014 by Wendy Alpine

My Son the Pitchman by Wendy AlpineSo it was the first week of school last week. I looked upon it with some trepidation, as last year was a bit of a challenge with my 16-year-old son, Zach.

The first few days went off without a hitch – he woke up by himself and got on the bus. When he came home from school, we talked about his day and the one thing I learned was that this year he hates the school lunch. “I had two donuts and a bag of chips,” he said. “I want to start taking my lunch.”

The next morning when I returned from my workout, I was greeted by a note on the counter: “Mom! Please iron my shirt and pants (which were crumpled in a ball on the floor outside his room). Please make my lunch (if possible). Please sign my syllabi. Love, Zach.” It was followed by a heart with the word “mom” in the middle and the kisses and hugs sign. But what really got me was the drawing he made at the bottom of the note: a bicep with a tattoo of the word “Mom” inscribed. I had to laugh.

What a pitchman, I thought. I shouldn’t do these things for him. What is he thinking? What am I teaching him if I do them? After all, he’s 16 – old enough to know better. So when my friend asked, “You didn’t do them, did you?” I had to sheepishly say, “Yes, of course.”

Suckered again. What is it about moms and their sons? This doesn’t happen with my daughter. She makes her own food, gets up when she’s supposed to, washes her own clothes, and — buys a lot of them (“Mom, I got this on sale!”).

But my son knows how to get me. He’s great at PR, cajoling and using his boyish charm to get me to do things for him. But no more. I’ve talked to some close friends and said that’s it, I’m not going to make his lunch or iron his clothes this year. He’ll have to do that. How else will he become independent (and me, less enabling)? And what’s more, I’m thinking of his girlfriends and future wife. “Thank G-d, your mother trained you well,” they’ll tell him one day.

I thought about the note again last night and realized that Zach may be onto something when it comes to pitching the media. His note contained some simple tips in influencing a reporter to write about your product.

  1. Spell out what you want precisely and directly, don’t beat around the bush.

  2. Ask politely. After all, you get more bees with honey.

  3. Use humor when possible. A reporter once said the way to get him to read your pitch was to “surprise” him. Using humor also works.

So there you have it. Today, I took a whiteboard and wrote down all the things he needs to do the night before and day of school (including making his lunch, ironing his clothes). He looked at it with little expression, muttered “OK” in the minimalist way he talks, and went out the door.

I’ll let you know how things work out.

Wendy Alpine of
Wendy Alpine
Phone: 404-641-6170
Fax: 404-806-5316


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