Talk Skills

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Dear J-

At one point today I had a strange prescient moment: I saw figgy twenty years on as a newly minted lawyer cords standing prominent and spittle flying, flecks of rage and crazy in her voice and eyes daring you to keep negotiating unfavorably. If she was in charge there would be no debt crisis, no political posturing. The moment passed and I saw her again, trying to futilely bargain down the wages of bad behavior: mom had declared that she had crossed over the line sufficiently in public that there’d be a time-out waiting for her at the house.

She continues to push and push. And then she’ll push a little more for good measure: you’re not consistent enough, your threats are empty. When we were growing up we never believed that spankings would materialize but for one day, caught in a particularly hurtful lie, we had to submit. theVet and I aren’t going to resort to corporal punishment but denying privileges and taking toys away? Oh yes. And the more effective punishments are the ones that leave her reduced to tears sometimes: they come out so frequently that you learn to distinguish her working herself up versus real trauma, or can we?

There’s a scene towards the end of Lilo and Stitch where Stitch is able to convince Jumba to help him rescue Lilo. It is an unbelievable moment, both in how fast and how completely Jumba changes his mind so he explains that “[Stitch] is very persuasive.” I understand. We went to SeaWorld — in the summer, fighting traffic, lines, crowds, and heat — because she mentioned that she wanted to go. You don’t get there without some pretty impressive skills, after all.

Mike

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