“He took my Brick Daddy!! Maaaamaaa!” Brick Daddy is the bad guy in Lunar Limo, one of the Lego sets that was long and deeply coveted by Cool J. There has been a flurry of excitement, therefore, over Brick Daddy’s recent arrival in our house (Bless Chanukah for its metamorphosis into an extenda-Christmas, gefilte mit many gifts from grandparents!).
“I’ll give it back! I just need him for the spaceship I built!”
LL turns to Cool J to offer him a deal: “Listen. How about I give you 2 storm troopers and you let me use Brick Daddy?”
“I don’t want storm troopers!!!”
“OK, how about you let me use Brick Daddy for 2 minutes. All you have to do is count until 120.”
“I don’t know HOW to count until 120!!!” Big tears.
“Hey, I have an idea. You can look at the instructions for my Imperial Star Destroyer and when you finish, I’ll be finished with Brick Daddy. OK?”
“And I’ll make you TWO presents at school tomorrow.”
“And you can wear my Superman shirt.”
The kids smile at each other. Isn’t it remarkable when kids can negotiate with each other better than, say, people with many years on them, and perhaps several university degrees?
Now, if I had wanted to go all Tiger Mom on them, I would have handled the situation quite differently. I would have stormed in, grabbed Brick Daddy, and announced that if they were going to fight about him, no one would get him—he was going in the garbage.
But I didn’t, because I figured that would be a lose-lose-lose. LL would be miserable, Cool J would be miserable, and I would be miserable because I would have to listen to them being miserable. Add to that the cost of the Lego in the trash.
Instead, I let them work it out for themselves, and everyone was happy and playing quietly, including me. Win! Win! Win!
Chairs do not always rule their departments as I rule my household. And grown-ups do not always resolve their disputes themselves even if the opportunity presents itself. Which is perhaps why Real Job didn’t happen.