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Diplomacy in the Workplace And Why I Love Hi-Five

February 10, 2010

I just recently started babysitting for a new family, two kids–one 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. I mainly hang out with the girl, and we’re past the honey moon stage where we play with glitter paint and dance all day.

Now she’s throwing temper-tantrums. Last week, it’s because I wouldn’t buy her a pair of shoes. This week, it because she woke up from a nap, and her mother wasn’t home.

Normally, if someone screamed at me like that, I would scream right back at them and tell them to grow up. But, you know, she’s four, and I can’t do that, and in reeling in my patience, I’ve learned a lot about relationships in general.

See, sometimes, my little girl yells because she’s uncomfortable–tired, sick, hot–and nothing I’ve done has actually pissed her off. Sometimes, she doesn’t even realize she’s crying any more, and I go “You don’t even have tears running down your face.” And then she gets confused and shuts up.

But my point is that with this girl, and every other person you will ever encounter, you have to learn when they’re having a fit or if something is really wrong. If it’s the former, they just need to cry themselves out. You let this happen by agreeing with everything they say.

So, for example, she says “I don’t like you.” I say, “That’s OK, I don’t really like you right now, either.”

She says “I don’t want you to babysit for me any more.” I say, “OK, I won’t come after tomorrow.”

She says, “I don’t LIKE gwapes! I’m throwing them out!” I say, “OK,” even though I know she really does like grapes and will ask for more in five minutes.

She says, “I HATE hi-five! Im not gonna watch it!” I say, “OK, you can turn it off if you want. You know where the remote is.”

And then I turn back to my magazine.

Eventually, she gets so confused and tired that she stops crying. In fact, she’s in the bedroom riiight now watching Hi-Five, which means I get to sit in this little blue chair and write this blog post.

Sometimes, in work and in life and in babysitting, it’s just not worth fighting.  It’s also worth referencing Robert Fulghum’s Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a poster my mom had framed and hung right behind our kitchen table for 85% of my youth. It may be corny, but the man knows what he’s talking about


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