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.
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?