There is a story that mediators tell about two children fighting over an orange. It’s a good story to know. I’d repeat it here, but instead I’ll send you to MediationTools.com to read about it. Read it first, then come back to this post.
The point of the story is to show that there is often a win-win solution hidden in a situation we assume must be a win-lose.
Today, with my three-year-old son, we had our very own orange story.
Teddy and I have been fighting over his habit of stripping the pillow cases off of his pillows. He doesn’t take the pillow cases off every now and then. He takes them off every day. Since he doesn’t have the dexterity to put the pillow cases back on, that is left to me to do at least once daily if not several times a day. As a full-time working mom with two young kids and one on the way, I am not in the mood to repeat chores with such a frequency. I’ve been at a loss for what to do to get Teddy to just leave the pillow cases on.
Today we had a breakthrough.
Rather than cajoling him once again to PLEASE leave the pillow cases on the pillows, I asked him, “What do you do with the pillows without the pillow cases?” His response surprised me.
He said, “Nothing. I want the pillow cases. I pretend they are lions and fight them.” I knew he was pretending to fight something, but I had just assumed it was the pillows.
“So, all you want is pillow cases?” I could hardly believe what he was telling me.
“Yep,” he said in a sing-song little boy voice.
“Oh.” I replied. All this time I had assumed that he wanted the pillows. I don’t have any more pillows to give him to use, so I’d assumed we were at a loss for solving this problem without him giving in to me, as his mother, demanding he leave the pillow cases on. Now that the issue shifted to pillow cases, something I have plenty of, we didn’t have a conflict.
I agreed to dig a few extra pillow cases out of the linen closet and he agreed to leave the pillow cases on his pillows. Problem resolved. Win-win.
It’s funny how even in the smallest disagreements we can be reminded of the power of the win-win.
Thanks Teddy for reminding me of that lesson.