I'm a conflict-avoider. She isn't.
"Sometimes you have to have conversations," she insists. "That way you can see the issue from another person's point of view, put yourself in their shoes."
"But why do you have to have a conversation in order to do that?" I respond. "Can't you just put yourself in their shoes?"
Maile Meloy's "Whose Side Are You On" explains that he can write for children because he was a child once. Many are surprised at his vocation, since he is not a parent. But what should being a parent have to do with it?
But most of my friends who write for kids don’t have them, and neither did some of the best children’s book writers ever. Theodor Geisel — Dr. Seuss — didn’t even like kids. “You have ’em, I’ll amuse ’em,” he’s supposed to have said. Maurice Sendak had none. Neither did Tove Jansson, Tomie dePaola, Ezra Jack Keats or Margaret Wise Brown. The great children’s books editor Ursula Nordstrom said, “I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.” It’s not a requirement to have children in order to write for them. You just need to have been one, and to remember what it’s like.
I was a tween when the first nephew arrived in my life. As I had entered adulthood kicking and screaming, I clung as much as I could to my fuzzy childhood memories. It granted me an edge, an understanding in some ways the adults could not relate to. How could they have completely forgotten about the monsters under the bed?
Ma allowed me to train her in the fine art of toy buying. She has gotten so good that I don't need to go with her anymore. I know which stuffed animal in my room goes with which child when they sleep over. Giraffe for A, "Bouncy Bear" for B, "Kallah Bear" for C, all of the above, and then some, for D. Appropriate blankie distribution is a whole other matter entirely.
But I am also the tough disciplinarian, because I know it is this narrow window that they must learn how to behave. Too soon, cookie, no one will find your tantrums cute. The world will not accommodate them.
Children's needs are simple. Don't make them complicated. Good food and good sleep is 80% of the work. They really don't act up all that much if they have enough rest. Like me.
More recently, I am trying to see things also from other adults' perspectives, especially in cases when I feel slighted or belittled. It's often not personal, rather an "offsetting of pain," to quote Brené. That allows me to move on, and not wrinkle.