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Srbija 2020

The Crying Game

At the precise moment of admitting defeat at the hands of my adversary, a small, unassuming, and yet hugely powerful opponent, I had a moment of total clarity. In one epiphanic flash, I perceived his full battle strategy and was forced to tip my hat to the cunning genius and utter simplicity of his plan. I had been outflanked, outmaneuvered, and out-right slam dunked. Again.

Allow me, if you will, to reveal for the first time my story. It is a story of the triumph of youth over experience, of primal instinct over wizened rationality. It is not a tale which I tell with pride, nor yet with anguish, but its telling will – I sincerely hope – unburden my soul by acknowledging the full untenability of my position.

And because my adversary is only two and half years old, he has yet to comprehend the sweetness of victory while I face the next 20 years (nay, more!) of bitter defeats.

The story unfolds in the recent past, about a week ago. I had the immediate urge to sit down and write out the details, but I forestalled my instinct so as to allow the passage of time to enrich the details and perhaps to shed further insight.

My friend and business partner was going to appear on a new B92 television show as a guest. The scheduled time (o! cruel clarity of hindsight!) was at 20.00 – dinner time for my opponent. The normal fare at this time of an evening consists of Spongebob, Noddy, or even the random madness of Cartoon Network. I should have known that he would never go gently into that good night.

Before I continue, I should state for the record that I believe myself to be a reasonably Good Father. I do not believe in corporal punishment, in negative reinforcement, or in imposing my will with the time-tested parental reasoning of “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” On the other hand, I firmly believe in establishing discipline and limits. The job description of a child includes a large amount of Limit Testing, to see how far they can go before a parent’s head physically implodes and he (this is the father’s perspective, therefore “he”) dissolves into a mass of molten chemicals on the kitchen floor.

The battle scenario I had planned (and yes, I knew there would be a battle) consisted of 1) early concessions, 2) distraction, 3) deferred rewards, and 4) grim determination. The adversary’s tactical approach however was much simpler: CRY UNTIL YOUR MOTHER INTERCEDES.

I will spare you the gory details from the actual field of battle. Suffice to say that my cunning plan was doomed from the outset. As I took possession of the TV’s remote control and switched channels, the crying began. Any parent can tell you that there are very clear distinctions between mothers and fathers as to what represents a tolerable amount of crying. The mother, generally speaking, can resist crying for approximately 0.02 seconds. The father, on the other hand, may have a much higher upward limit. In my experience, however, I cannot say with any accuracy how long I could resist the howling, if only because the end of the maternal resistance time is accompanied by Direct Intervention. After 0.01 seconds, the stern looks set in (“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY CHILD?”). After 0.015 seconds, the Swooping In begins. By the time the deadline arrives, corrective procedures are already being executed.

In fairness to the players in this drama, I was indeed able to see my partner’s guest appearance, the crying did not last more than about a minute (although it seemed like 30), and there was no post-traumatic shock to deal with on any side. My own plan, however, was exposed as a failure.

Why have I shared this tale with you? What force has compelled me to regale you with my shameful and undignified demise? They say that confession is good for the soul, but this is not the reason. The fact is that my young son has brought about a sea-change in his father’s Weltanschauung. No longer will I hatch elaborate schemes to try to circumvent defeat; no more shall I consider my adversary as an opponent; and, finally, no further shall I proceed down the erroneous path of opposing overwhelming odds against me.

Next time, I will just try the Crying.

next time...

It's cheaper than a new TV set.

looks like no one has kids here :)
or too busy haggling over more important issues...

Measure of Parents

It is probably a measure of who the better parents are: people like me, who take time away from children to write a blog about control of the remote control, probably do not qualify in that category...


No help from here

All I can say - God help you! :-)))) Crying seems to be the best tactics, but considering I'm not a parent, all I can say is I'm not going to become one until I graduate at West Point... Really looks like a lost battle from start if you consider a child as the opponent! So, no help from me this time - I cannot even imagine what are you living through... :-))

Because I said so :))

I think you should not dismiss "Because I said so!", as it is very useful. Instead of: "I will not spend next two hours discussing why I think that you should do this (e.g. pick that up, get dressed, do your homework), whether there are other persons who could possibly be taken into consideration as potential candidates to perform this particular task, or whether there are other persons who should be asked to perform other tasks of similar nature around the house, and why I want this thing to be done now and not later!", you just say "Because I said so!" :)) And mean it! Although, you are probably not at that stage yet (at two and a half). My Cuddly Monsters are a bit older, so we discuss more and scream (marginally) less :))

But you realize, of course, that you are in an unequal battle, he has high-tech weapons and reinforcements, and you go in alone and practically unarmed :)

catchin up with the wizard

First of all,
this is a really good story.
I don't look at it as a potential parent, or grandparent, or educator - it's a good story. The story of pure power, irrespective of age, strength, intellect.
The wizard is at its best when he/she doesn't realize the impact his/her magic has in reality.
The onset of victory really ends with its realization. The winners take it all, even if they don't really mean it. Even if the purpose of a game is not the game itself. And that's the sheer beauty of it.
Winning without a plan, without premeditation.
With children it is always this intuitive game you have to play and that's the only way to catch up with the wizard.
Rational explanations won't help. The child has its strong allies - instict (plus mother - something you cannot beat, not even in your wildest dreams),something we, grown-ups, somehow, along this cognitive way, seem to forget using. And that's the beauty of having a child.
You start questioning your own principles and ideas, meticulously implanted in your gene structure.
And maybe, if we listened better, maybe even we wouldn't go gently into that silent night. And maybe we would be able to understand that our defeat is, in fact, our own victory.
And, next time - start crying, no, not crying - whining! (learn from the master)
And once more - A REALLY GOOD STORY!