“A Fight in the Souq” by Karl O’ Brien on Flickr
Watching, reading, and listening to the news generally depresses me. But when things feel really just out of control, I feel it is my duty as a human being to tune in and get a grasp of what is going on in the world around me.
Of course, this week my attention has been on the Budget Bickering Debacle going on in our Congress. The thing is, every time I read or watch or hear a piece on this issue, a very clear image plays out in my head. Let me lay it out for you.
Baby and Daughter are playing side by side. Baby puts down Toy One to play with Toy Two. Five, ten, fifteen seconds pass and Daughter picks up Toy One. Five, ten, fifteen, thirty seconds pass and Baby realizes Daughter has Toy One. “No! It’s mine!” he yells as he lunges for Toy One. Daughter is swift though and yanks it just out of his reach in the nick of time. “You weren’t playing with it!” she contends while stretching her body in unimaginable ways to keep the toy even further out of his grasp. Baby is determined though. He knows that Toy One is his toy and there’s just no way he’s going to concede that fact. He pulls forward and maybe climbs on her. “Mine!” he screams a bit louder and more desperate. Daughter starts to fight back. “Get off of me!” she’ll yell as she squirms and twists to manage her way out from under him—no small feat considering he weighs as much as she does. Within seconds it happens—the two start screaming and wailing endlessly repeating their claims to Toy One frantically and loudly, neither willing to give up their claim to their precious Toy One, neither even listening to themselves much less each other.
Now, let’s pretend for this post’s sake, that the above situation is taking place in my house and there are lots of people over perhaps for Easter brunch. The screaming is piercing. The wailing is cringe-worthy. Everyone sits and waits. For what? For me.
All of these very uncomfortable people are waiting for me to step in, yank Toy One from their hands, separate the two terribly entwined bodies and demand in my best Angry Mommy Voice, “What on Earth is going on here?” This would then be followed with something along the lines of, “If you can’t share Toy One no one plays with it. Now sit and play nicely or you get time outs, both of you!” Depending on how worked up they are, it may take a few more sentences but eventually it ends the same way every time—I get to walk away from two kids peacefully playing and Toy One is even back in action in some function.
If you’re not sure what on Earth this has to do with Congress and Budget Bickering, let me explain. I get the feeling the vast majority of mothers (and possibly a good amount of teachers and child care providers) in this country are watching all of this unfold and shaking their heads thinking, “You let me in that room and I’ll have those spoiled brats working together nicely in ten minutes flat. You’d have this damn ridiculousness done with in an hour max.” I’m actually pretty sure if they let me into Congress, I’d probably yell at them something similar to what I tell my kids—“What on Earth is going on here? You’re behaving like completely spoiled brats! Now I want you all to sit down and quietly explain to me what it is exactly that is preventing you from behaving like adults and finding a resolution. And if you can’t get yourselves under control by the time I count to three, no one gets a paycheck for the next three months! Am I understood?”
Obviously, Congress doesn’t allow frustrated American moms into their chambers to end these ridiculous disputes (recurring way too often if you ask me). So, we need the next best thing. We need members of Congress to take it upon themselves to assume the mantle of parent – I mean, leader. We need members of Congress who have the courage to not worry about Election Day 2012. We need members of Congress to have the courage to step forward and say, “Right now I don’t care about my party, I don’t care about my constituents, but I sure as hell care about this country and the crisis it’s facing and I am determined to do whatever it takes to fix it right this moment.” We need members of Congress to understand we’re the uncomfortable party guests wondering when in God’s name the parents are going to step in and take control of a situation that has gotten completely out of control and made everyone exceptionally uncomfortable. You can sit there and proclaim you’re a really great parent/leader, but at the end of the day effective parenting/leadership isn’t about the words that come out of your mouth to people around you—it’s the actions you take in parenting/leadership situations. Finger-pointing, complaining, ignoring, pouting, proving a point, and bullying is not behavior befitting a leader. It is what children do. It is what followers do.
So I ask of the Congress—Where are the parents? The children are acting out and need your immediate intervention.