Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Counter-Insurgency at Bedtime

Mother Goof is away, ostensibly at a conference – but I have reason to believe she is primarily spending her time imbibing margaritas so big they use depth charges to mix them.

That leaves yours truly on solo patrol. The running joke about being outnumbered by your kids is that you have to switch from man-to-man to playing zone defense. But I’ve been reading about counter-insurgency and how the way to win is by developing and empowering local forces.

My son can read. He wants to be grown up. My daughter is four – she hates me (except when she loves me and/or needs something from me.) So, while mommy is away he gets to read (or tell) her a story and put her to bed. The other night he told her a story in which she and her friends were detectives. (We’ve been listening to a lot of Cam Jansen. I love her. She’s a hard-boiled 9 year-old with a photographic memory and a no-nonsense attitude. It is sort of Raymond Chandler for pre-teens, stripped of sex and violence.)

My son gets to stay up late and feel important. My daughter gets to defy me and assert her independence. Since all I really want is the two of them in bed with minimal hassle, I am the ultimate winner with barely the slightest expenditure of energy.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemies will without fighting.
Sun-Tzu, eat your heart out.

Bedtime Truths
After putting my daughter to bed, I keep my son company, lying (physically and verbally) on the floor as he drifts off. Both kids sleep with T-shirts my wife wore and didn’t wash before she left. My son put his on one of his bears and was cuddling it.

“Daddy, remember when I was little and I had to have my blankey and every night when you put me to bed I sent you downstairs to get it?”

His blankey was a cloth diaper.

“Buddy, can I tell you a secret?” I didn’t wait for an answer, recklessly I continued, “I didn’t really go down stairs. I walked out of your room, opened and closed the child gate and walked in place, waited a minute and repeated the process. I just grabbed the first blankey off the pile in the hallway. One time mommy saw me do this and started laughing seeing the whole show I put on.”

There was silence for a moment and then a scream, and hard thud as a seven year old landed on my chest.

“Why didn’t you get me my blankey?!? I needed my blankey!?!”

Clearly, my information operations need work. What does Sun-Tzu say about deception?

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