Children are wily creatures and few grownups understand the depth of their powers. At birth they begin conditioning us to do their bidding. It is as natural as breathing for these exquisite beings. Cry out and we comfort them. Wale louder and we nurse and rock and sing to them. Their command and control grow exponentially in their formative years. By the time they are teens we are vanquished. For a short time in history adults banned together and enforced the “children should be seen and not heard “ state, but no more. Today, kids rule.
What’s an adult to do? Here we must turn to the science of kidology. I have studied kidology for twenty-eight years. Four fascinating children have graced my laboratory. Blocks, balls, and books have been my most trusted tools. Chocolate chip cookies and real hot cocoa are my secret weapons. It is possible to survive and thrive in kid-dom, but a few simple theorems must be applied.
First, dine with children as often as possible. Engage them in conversation. Arm yourself with names and profiles of their friends, outlines of fashionable TV shows, and as much pop music as you can stand. Tell them about your day, and ask them to elaborate on theirs. Ask questions that require more than the obligatory grunt, but take the grunt – it’s a start. This idea of eating together is actually based on a study of National Merit Scholarship Finalists. The commonality for these whiz kids was a regular family meal. When my oldest son was seven, he declared at one of our regular family meals that his friend, Wesley, said “f—” was a bad word. I choked out my affirmation and gagged to my husband to handle this one. Be ready to bridge any topic.
Second, conflict with your children. Just say no from time to time; it’ll do you both good. Beware, though, that kids are brilliant strategists and will go straight for your heart when negotiating. They master the art very early. Just the other day, a friend, who is frantically preparing for her oldest daughter’s Christmas nuptials, was trying to explain to her young son that he couldn’t have a motorcycle from Santa. “That stupid wedding!” he replied. Bull’s eye: with three carefully crafted words, he made his totally irrational request a measure of how he’d been slighted. She wavered a bit, but after running five miles and discussing the matter with another practicing kidologist, she decided to stick to her guns – no Harley.
Kidology works. Share a meal, converse, and conflict. I have seen it succeed. My lab has produced a Yalee/scientist, a Citadel cadet now legal eagle, an affable Air Force nurse, and a nice young man, soon to be elementary teacher. The truth of the matter is – we want kids to rule the world – when they’re ready. This I believe: kidology will render you both ready.
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