At school, our older children, Prima (aged 6) and Secundo (aged 5) are learning how to deal with bullying and conflict. When troubled by some one, they have been taught to stand up and say in a loud clear voice, assertively and politely: “Stop it, I don’t like it.”
They have then been instructed by their teachers to move away from the pint-sized aggressor and find an adult to report the misconduct to.
Of course, our children have turned what should have been an important life lesson, into a game. They hit each other and then shout “Stop it, I don’t like it.” They can do this to each other for hours (in the car, in the bath, at the dinner table) and they find it funny until somebody cries. Everything’s funny until somebody cries. The whole game gets on my nerves and when I try to end it, they inform me they are practising self-defence. What can you say to that?
More importantly, at what stage in our lives did we stop saying “Stop it, I don’t like it.”?
To my friends at my old law firm in London, how many times has a partner given you a contract to negotiate by the close of business New York time, when it is 7pm GMT? How many times on a Friday night, on her way out to departmental drinks, has a partner given you a report to amend, that she has sat on for three days? How many times have your holidays been pulled? Whilst on holiday, how many emails have you secretly sent from your blackberry, hiding in the hotel bathroom so your spouse doesn’t see you?
What if, instead of saying “Sure, I’d love to spend my weekend in a windowless, airless, souless data room doing due diligence whilst you go to your country home in Cornwall.”, the lawyers of the world united and said in one voice, “Stop it, I don’t like it.”?
I figure I’ve got a couple of years before I re-enter that corporate life, but I am going to take the time out to practise. Every time that parent in the Hummer gets huffy with me for needing three tries to park our new 7-seater, every time a health visitor patronises me, every time one of my mother’s friends comments on my post-natal weight, every time my mother rearranges my spice cupboard, every time my mother-in-law rearranges my entire house, every time my children play that stupid game, I am going to say in a loud clear voice, assertively and politely:
“Stop it, I don’t like it.”