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Learning that it’s OK to disagree

Submitted by on Monday, 12 January 2009 No Comment

Big Guy and I seem to have a pattern in our relationship: All of our important conversations take place either as he’s falling asleep or over milk and cookies.

While I don’t recommend pillow talk as the path to world peace, I’m thinking we could make great inroads on a number of international disputes if we locked both sides in a room with a plate of chocolate chip.

That was the key last night for Big Guy, who out of the blue brought up an issue that hadn’t been discussed in months.

“Mommy, why doesn’t John McCain like Obama?” he asked.

I’m sure the Big People haven’t mentioned McCain since November, so that goes to show you how the kid holds on to things. And Big Guy’s impression of McCain during the early October debate was lasting and negative.

“Well, I don’t know that he doesn’t like Obama. He just disagrees with him, and he didn’t always disagree in a nice way, did he?”

Big Guy shook his head, then quickly look confused. “Mommy, what’s ‘disagree’?”

Oh, boy. Time for Mommy to again grope to explain a concept the Big People take for granted. I briefly wanted to go back to Saturday, when all he wanted to know was about how husbands and wives get babies.

“It’s when two people think two different things. And it’s OK to disagree. That doesn’t mean you don’t like each other.”


“It’s like this: I like sweet potatoes, but you don’t, do you?”


“So we disagree. But you still like me, don’t you?”


“OK, what’s your favorite color?”


“And mine’s red. But I still like you. We can disagree and still like each other.”

“I don’t like pink.”

“Hey! Neither do I! Isn’t that neat? Even people who disagree about some things can agree on others. I like that!”

“Me, too! Can I have another cookie?”

The moment had passed — they do that quickly with the guys, and if you don’t grab on immediately the chance is lost. I’m glad I caught this one, because sometimes I’m a step slow and realize 20 minutes after he’s dozed off the exact right thing I should have said.

I hope I made some inroads.

You see, my son, the concept of disagreeing and still liking each other is lost on far too many Big People these days. We’d rather huff and puff and bludgeon each other into oblivion than reach out and find common ground from which to solve problems. That’s part of the reason we’re in such a mess, a ton of which we’ll likely hand off to  you, your brother and your friends.

I hope your generation can do better. I doubt you could do worse.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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