This week I’m coming to you from the fabulous town of Truro, almost at the tip of Cape Cod. It’s our annual family vacation with my sisters, their families, and my mom. There are seven adults and eight kids between the ages of 11 and 2 ½ and while watching the various games and refereeing numerous arguments, I have realized what makes kids so much better at dealing with conflict than adults:
They are masters of letting go.
No child is perfect (least of all mine) – but one thing they are great at is getting over a disagreement. While observing the eight cousins from three different families, one can imagine the arguments that break out on a daily basis. Everything can become a fight – from who is up in the whiffle ball game to who sits where at the dinner table – and they never miss an opportunity to let the others ones know when they are ticked off. However, the greatest thing about child diplomacy is that they don’t hold a grudge and are more than willing to let their adversary play with them just five minutes later.
I have tried to figure out how they can be so good at this: are they kinder or less jaded than adults? Do they harbor fewer bad feelings because they don’t hold back and tell another one exactly how they are feeling instead of being “more polite” than we do? Or is it just that their memories last about long as a goldfish’s?
My personal theory is this: if you stay mad at your cousin, you’ll be out of luck when you need another kid to play with later on.
It struck me that our leaders today could learn a few things from these kids. Could you just imagine if kids truly did rule the world? Wars would still be fought, but with Nerf guns and water balloons as soldiers on opposite sides fell over with laughter rather than injuries. And as soon as the war got “boring,” they would quickly shift gears and play Manhunt instead.
All political speeches would be cut to two minutes tops and must include numerous jokes and sports references. Every American would be granted the right to life, liberty, and an in-ground swimming pool. Vegetables would be outlawed. School would consist of two hours of gym and three hours of recess and summer would last from April to November.
Alright, alright ... perhaps ousting our current government and handing over the reins to a bunch of kids isn’t the best idea, but they certainly could take a page or two out of the “Vacationing with Cousins” handbook when it comes to conflict resolution. Rather than spending months arguing back and forth on an issue, Congress could let both parties yell at each other, pout a little, and then douse each other with silly string. Problem solved, it would end with laughter and smiles…
And maybe a little Whiffle Ball.