Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Open Letter To The U.N.

Attention: Ban Ki-Moon

Re: Application for Position of Head of United Nations (Temporary).

Dear Mr. Moon,

It occurs to me that society is a little troubled lately, what with global civil unrest and nuclear proliferation and young people taking to planking when they are not using poor spelling and putting their long, spotty legs awkwardly in the corridors of buses.

As a committed world citizen and a mother of two pre-schoolers, I’d like to offer my consulting services. (Please note I am available only until July, as I’m having another baby in August and the final weeks of gestation will involve a heavy schedule of complaining, chocolate-eating and urination, while after the birth cracked and bleeding nipples would likely distract me during high-end meetings.) Until then, however, I can offer my skill-sets in the following areas:

Handling Difficult People

Like many political leaders, my children have different personalities that must be taken into account when engaging in complex negotiations. Four-year-old Ivy is theatrical and dramatic. As a toddler she banged her head on the floor when she was angry and since acquiring the gift of language, she’s taken to avowing ‘Oh my god, I think that nobody loves me’ whenever thwarted. Like many narcissistic despots, she is not yet blessed with empathy, evidenced by this morning’s query: ‘Will you be spewing for long, Mum? I want more cheesy toast.’ Two-year-old Teddy also has the erratic personality common to his age bracket. He likes to walk on his knees in public, answers every request emphatically with NO, and has, of late, inexplicably demanded to be addressed as Trixie-Jeff. Also, when angered, he shouts ‘You are bum!’ Clearly I am well-trained in the management of tyrants, megalomaniacs and lunatics. In fact, I think it will be a refreshing change to deal with the continent variety.

Punishment and Negotiation

I am not in general an advocate of corporal punishment, but I have found that creativity is key. For instance you would be amazed at how firmly you can hold down a two-year fighting his nappy change with just one leg across the chest. Another popular technique is ‘1, 2, 3, Magic’. In a political setting this would mean that when you reach ‘three’ a dictator’s beloved dirty billions are taken away and placed on the Naughty Shelf (the World Bank, for instance.) Time-Out, a perennial favourite, could involve a Micronesian island made unusable for tourism due to nuclear testing or climate change. In general, no-nonsense, Mary-Poppins-like approach is best. ‘Despots! You are skating the thin edge of the wedge. Stop your naughty genocidal oppression this instance or there will be consequences.’ Some parents advocate ‘time-in’ where you would hold the irate dictator in a close, enveloping hug until his ire is spent. This may of course present difficulties if the dictator in question wears a lot of heavy, spiky jewelry, or is prone to biting.

Managing Cultural Differences

I understand that different cultural customs and behaviors can lead to conflict and disorder. This is common in raising pre-schoolers. Alone, Ivy might cut and paste for an hour, while Ted is happy dancing solo in his room for quite some time to his Desperate Man Blues CD. When forced into a confined area, however, their different needs can lead to intense, sudden conflict, like a feminist academic sent on a romantic date with a professional footballer. Struggles over ownership in my house may include the yellow cup, the Wiggles fork and the honker. At your table they are likely over territorial boundaries, money and religious freedom. Regardless, they come from the same emotional space: Give. Me. It.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you cannot trust one party’s version of events. The truth is always likely to lie in between. Yesterday, sudden silence in the bedroom was followed by Teddy’s pained wailing while Ivy whispered frantically ‘Sorry, Ted! You’re alright! Sorry, Ted!’ When Teddy appeared in tears, and his sister was summoned to explain herself, she immediately went on the offensive and claimed ‘Teddy just kicked me three hundred times.’

In general, the arbiter of these conflicts must be firm, creatively focused on solutions, and prepared to face personal injury. (For instance, the time Teddy gave me a black eye with a chicken drumstick.)

I’m available to discuss these thoughts and my availability further. My best time to chat is either 3pm or 4.30pm on a weekday afternoon when Play School is on.


6 comments:

  1. Rach, Hilarious. I will write you a letter of recommendation. Nicole

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  2. Well, I'd hire you. Brilliant.

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  3. When will I ever learn? One ought not to pop by here while sipping hot milo. The computer screen (not to mention my nose) will never be the same.

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  4. Haha, so funny, but nice to know that the battles in your house are the same as the ones in mine! Unfortunately, I can only offer you the promise that it does not change - my two are ten and eight and your blog provides a very similar picture of our everyday life. Good luck to you I say, and to me as well!!

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Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.