January 8th, 2009


I used to be a great parent. When my kids were little, there I was, up to my eyeballs in blocks and paints, reading stories, adventuring through the neighborhood. It’s harder now because it doesn’t come naturally. I have to think through what needs doing, plan ahead for the inevitable struggles that used to be resolvable by making someone go sit on the stairs to think over his or her behavior.

But yesterday I won. I’ve written before about T. and his lists. I avoided the entire philosophical discussion of why one might want a clean room. We talked, like actual human beings instead of screaming purple people, about what needed to be done and how best to accomplish that. I may even get what I want.

A while back I learned about a model for people’s conflicts that has proved useful, at least after the fact in figuring out what went wrong, since I’m rarely mindful enough to employ my knowledge in the moment. Simply put, in a conflict, one has to choose whether to focus on getting what one wants, being the person one wants to be, or preserving the relationship. Yesterday I aced the third part, did reasonably well on the second part, and we’ll see about that first part.

Can I play with play dough now?