My son, at age 5, used to sit at a little table on landing that overlooked our dining room. He called it his office, and his office had rules. Like any good office manager, he wrote them down, so that people would know what to do.
Visitors to my son’s office could read each rule in big printing on a separate signs. One had a misspelling that was too charming to correct. These are a few that I remember: Be nice to each other. . . . Don’t take stuff you don’t need. . . . Tell mean people to stop. . . . Write neatly.. . . Do things in order. . . . Don’t yell. . . . . and Water the planets.
(Maybe it wasn’t a misspelling. He sure liked the planets when he was five.)
The signs were so marvelous, I asked to borrow them. I took them to work, and at our next team meeting, we discussed what they might mean. How much fun was that?!!! We got to remember how kids view the world. We got to apply our kid-like reasoning to the complex issues that grown-up work brings.
Throughout that week and for weeks later, when we problem solved issues, we would use the vocabulary of my son’s office rules. We would say, “Do things in order,” when we meant follow the plan. We would say, “Water the planets.” when we meant pay attention to people, or details, or the conversation at hand. Every time we would laugh.
We were a bunch of grownups pretending we were kids playing grownups. It made the whole thing a delicious conspiracy of getting things done.
We can change the world, just like that.
–ME “Liz” Strauss