Centuries from now, when historians are sifting through the archaeological remains of our great civilization and looking for clues about the cause of its demise, they will come across a Pottery Barn wicker basket of petrified newspapers. At the top of that basket, found on the 34th floor of an ancient Tribeca loft, they will find two articles. The archeologists—trained in early twenty-first century linguistics—will shout, "Eureka! We have found the cause!"
They will drop their trowels, shake their heads and wonder why they didn't see this earlier. They will head back to their tents and consign earlier theories of civilizational decline to the dustbin. It wasn't climate change, political corruption, economic inequality, a sudden collapse of global bee communities, plague, pestilence, or even aliens from outer space. It was this:
Bribing toddlers can be counter-productive, according to Vanessa. Instead, the 28-year-old coaches her young charges how to play together—for $450 an hour. After all, play dates are no trivial matter. They can decide a child's future.
I remember her solving a conflict with the kids, who were 5 and 6," Ms. Mortimer said. "She had them calm down and use their 'I' statements. Our little girl said, 'I don't feel safe when you throw a Lego at my head.' Our boy said, 'I feel that throwing a Lego at your head is the only way to get your attention.' She treated them with such respect and dignity.
Yes, friends. If, somehow, these newspapers manage to survive the ravages of time and Jeff Bezos, this type of thing will one day be recounted as part of the historical record of western civilization: play date brokers and nanny/parent mediators.
I'm proud to report that the same archaeologists will no doubt find some evidence of families who avoided such civilizational rot. Researchers, combing through the servers of a small but influential Canadian think tank might come across an email sent from a staffer to his colleagues and detect a strain of resilience in the already rotting culture. It will be noted that this think tank was the hub of a surviving remnant who practiced the violent, chaotic, but highly resilient parenting policy of benign neglect. They will recognize that such a policy was the foundation of the new and thriving civilization of which the archaelogists were a surviving part. That email, a response to the two spots of rot noted above, will read:
Meanwhile, in the Dijkema household . . .
"I remember my brother punching me in the face before church" says Dijkema son C, who turns three today. "There was blood all over my nice Sunday shirt and my seatbelt," he added.
When asked why he punched his brother in the nose, Son A, 6, replies "Well, I was sick of buckling up his seatbelt so I told him to do it himself. He punched me in the arm, so I punched him back."
"Mom got mad," chimes in Son B, 6. "She said, 'You boys need to stop hitting each other and use your words.' I really don't know what that means."