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Terrorists and terror tots

Overdosing on old films during the festive break was not, it turns out, a waste of time. There are serious lessons to be learned from watching Die Hard. For example, the reason John McClane ends up running around Nakatomi Plaza in his vest, trailing blood from his bare feet, is that he knows it is futile to negotiate with Hans Gruber and his band of ruthless terrorists.

There are some situations when reasoned argument just does not work. At such times the only successful course of action is to strip down to your vest and kick ass.

Allow me to refer you to an incident that took place at Le Chien et Le Canard the other Sunday lunchtime. It involves a mummy, a daddy, a potato rosti and the child from hell.

Back in the old days when Le Chien et Le Canard was still the Dog and Duck it was not unusual to see somebody getting a good kicking. Usually the violence was partially obscured by a curtain of tobacco smoke and full race commentary from Uttoxeter. During the property boom of the Noughties, however, the Dog reinvented itself. It became an upmarket pub and family-friendly restaurant offering fine dining at reasonable prices. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the kickings were still going on.

"Argyle, please don't do that to Mummy," says Mummy.

Argyle responds by kicking her again and repeating his demands.

"Argyle, Mummy has asked you nicely to stop kicking her," says Daddy. "You know we can't have ice cream until after we've eaten dinner. Now why don't you try some rosti?"

Argyle, recognising this as an attempt to deflect him from his goal-oriented persuasive strategy, throws the rosti out of the negotiating arena altogether. It lands on the carpet close to where we are sitting. While Daddy apologises and scoops bits of potato into a serviette, Argyle repeats his demands and maintains his negotiating tactics.

I smile at my wife in a way that says, thank God it's nothing to do with us, but she smiles back in a way that says, do you think we should interfere? So I smile back more firmly in a way that says, definitely not, but she smiles back even more firmly in a way that insists, we should offer them the benefit of our advice because after all I am a primary teacher. And before I can smile back in a way that says, don't even think about getting us involved, we are.

"It's so difficult to manage the behaviour of young children these days, isn't it?" says my wife. "My husband knows exactly what it's like: he's a primary teacher."

"Really?" says Daddy. "How would you deal with this sort of thing?"

"I'd use the John McClane method," I reply.

"What's that?" asks Daddy.

"Refuse to negotiate," I tell him. "Negotiation doesn't work when the respective parties don't have equal bargaining power."

"What do you mean?" says Daddy.

"As an adult you are able to justify your position intellectually using logic and reason. A small child can't do that. Small children are socially and linguistically immature. All they can do is cry, scream and kick Mummy on the shins."

"So how do we stop him?" asks Mummy.

"Well, you could try throwing him out of an upper-storey window and shouting 'yippee ki-yay, mother-kicker' as he plummets to his death."

"Pardon?" says Daddy.

"He's joking," says my wife. "I think."

Steve Eddison is a key stage 2 teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield.

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