Social Engineering

I want them to be friends when they are 30. That’s my goal.

But I’ve tried to engineer a lot of relationships in the past and have usually failed. There’s a science of trying that says if you try to hard, you will queer the deal. This lesson has been itself 30 years in the making. Forcing, expecting, wanting people to have feelings that they don’t genuinely have is a perpetually losing proposition.

Yesterday, I whirled around in the car to face them in the back seat. “You’re cousins. You know what that means? You have to treat each other better than you treat everyone else. Okay? You have to be extra nice to each other.”

Or do they? If their relationship takes tons of extra effort and gets monitored to death by their grandmother, it’s probably not going to take. If an adult has to sand down the scratchy parts of each child so they fit better together, then whose relationship does it become?

Better they should have scratchy edges and figure out themselves how to accommodate and negotiate. Better that they should figure out whether it’s worth it to move the effortless reliability of being relatives to the possibly rocky shores of friendship. And that will take some time.

I think it takes a week. Every year.

Flying across the country so one Wisconsin girl and one California girl can be pals.

That, and letting them be.

That, and not having an opinion about everything they say and do.

That, and letting them figure out their own relationship.

That, and having a lot of time for them to run down a hiking trail and in and out of the ocean’s surf.

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That, and letting the sun shine on their friendship and just letting it grow.


#69/100: 69th in a series of 100 in 100




3 Comments on “Social Engineering

  1. Loved this. “Letting the sun shine on their friendship and just letting it grow.” There is never a better way than this.

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