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Lack of Diplomatic Immunity

April 28, 2012

Most of our friends have heard me say it: Bobo is what I call an “inbetweener”. He is bright, amazing, loving, creative, and funny. He can also  (especially since November) be reactive, inflexible, and impulsive. As I said before, he is settling down and getting a better grip on it but sometimes things fly out of his mouth (and once or twice this past year, his fists) and they do damage. What’s heartbreaking to me is that he totally doesn’t mean it, feels terrible, and isn’t sure how to deal with it. Adults can cope with that whole dynamic pretty well, but his peers understandably have a bit more trouble with it.

The problem with impulsive lightning-fast stress reactions is that “natural consequences” don’t work as a teaching tool. Consequences only work if children can control the problem behavior to begin with. So, I find myself often serving as the Ambassador of Bobo, smoothing things over, working hard with him to brainstorm and helping him look for ways to repair the relationships he is so sad about injuring. We always do that for our kids when they are little, but in Bobo’s case I have had to do a lot more intensive diplomatic outreach. That is one of the toughest things about this mountain we are climbing–I had hoped by now to put down the burden and let him do his own statesmanship, but he still needs me as interpreter, cultural attache, and secretary of state.Some easy days I I work for Great Britain or a crowdpleaser like New Zealand, this year it’s been more like I’ve been hired to do PR for North Korea.  I think perhaps as a result of finally starting to write about all this I allowed myself to be hit by a wave of fatigue and sadness about it today, wondering when my age of retirement from the foreign service will finally be.

(and with that, she puts battered, exhausted diplomacy metaphor down, backs away with hands in the air)


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