Thursday, July 24, 2008

Better Parenting through Organizational Theory

All suffering has meaning. However discernment of that meaning is sometimes long in coming, if ever. This explains such realities as mosquitoes, the Cubs, several Saturday Night Live seasons in the early 90’s, and phone trees.

However, waiting for an air conditioning repairman who helpfully told me via automated message he’d be here today between 8 and 5, I had an epiphany. Maybe it was heat stroke. Stress from parenting could be mitigated to a much lower level if I simply adopted an organizational theory towards any and all potential crisis situations.

For those unfamiliar with the nuances of the business model that explains the organizational theory paradigm, think of every corporate entity as a huge amoeba. Any problem is viewed as an external threat, a stimulus like an electric shock that the amoeba attempts to diffuse such that it can remain unchanged by the experience. The whole point of such a structural arrangement is to devolve responsibility for all problems and issues such that no one is ultimately responsible for or capable of addressing the crisis.

Alternatively, the organization attempts to diffuse the anxiety and frustration on the part of aggrieved parties by delaying and parsing the problem at issue into insignificance. The billing company has nothing to do with the shipping company which has nothing to do with the manufacturing which has nothing to do with ordering or parts or technical support. Interconnectedness within an organization is kept secret from the outside to avoid a linking chain of responsibility. Hence the business gets to go on being a happy amoeba.

Knowledge may be power but knowing that corporations deliberately plan this hard to frustrate the consumer might lead to despair…or would except now I’m thinking…that could work for me.

“Mom! I need my swimsuit for Saturday.”

My middle daughter came to me, holding a bag containing at least two weeks of hidden laundry. Having spent the day before washing, drying and folding, having done a patrol for secret piles, having issued several calls for all dirty clothing, I had considered myself done for the week. Organizational theory to the rescue!

“I’m sorry, but my schedule is such that I can’t fit you in until next Wednesday.”

“But I need it in two days!”

“Sorry, but I’m booked. You might try other vendors providing laundry services. Otherwise, it’s Wednesday.”

“Fine! I’ll do it myself!” She stomped to the washing room and began working to take care of things.

I’m beginning to like this corporate paradigm. Just as I’m wondering if I can set hours for dinner, sometime between 8 and 5 tomorrow, a crisis occurs.

“Smack!” “Hey! Give that back!” “MOMMMMMMM!”

There is a race to the kitchen. I am sitting with my planner organizing the day.



Brain filing away the idea that my kids even tattle in iambic pentameter for another day’s article, I put out my hand. “Thank you for calling the Mom Helpline. For help in English, press the thumb now.”

My first grade daughter, bewildered, pushes my thumb.

“For emergencies involving blood or broken appliances, press the first finger.”

My preschool son is mesmerized, my daughter is smiling.

“For physical needs like food, water, bandages or dirty diapers, press the second finger.”

“For hugs, “I love yous,” stories read aloud or kisses, press the ring finger.” And I waved my fourth finger as a bit of extra customer service. My daughter presses it and gets a hug. My son does too and gets at kiss.

“For resolution of disputes such as fights, tattles, or unfair situations, press the pinky finger.”

My son touched the pinky.

“Thank you, please be advised that all calls may be monitored to ensure quality customer service. The current volume of calls may mean you are on hold for some time. Current estimated time of holding is five minutes.” I went over to the oven and set the timer.

“So can we talk to you yet?” My daughter asked.

“No, you’re on hold.” I explained.
“How long are we on hold?”

“Well, I set the timer, so why don’t you go play or color while you wait?”

“Okay Mom!” “Thanks Mom!”

The two went off to play and the timer went off and no one returned.
“That went well.” I thought.

I’m one big happy mommy amoeba. Now, if only the air conditioning repairman would show up.

I'd be an even happier amoeba if you'ld go rate me at humor blogs...yes it's fixed now so you can give an opinion. So far, I have a


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Oooh, I love the voicemail idea!

jacobusmaximus said...

If you can patent that idea you will be wealthy and funny. I love it.

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