Friday, 30 August 2013

Losing the Parenting Game

There are a lot of things to do wrong when you are parenting.  In theory it is a cooperative game where the goal is that everyone get the best outcome, but on any given turn the best outcome from the perspective of one player doesn't match that of another player so it can become quite competitive.  While there are many other aspects to parenting, a significant amount of the game take place in the "rules" phases where the "parent" player is able to make rules, rescind rules and enforce rules and the "toddler" player is allowed to shout what they want, or sometimes just, "No!"

It's important to have a long term strategy, but also to recognize that the strategy has to be flexible enough to accommodate randomness.  I know these things which makes it all the more embarrassing that I seem to repeatedly make the same type of mistake.

Take the following situation, Player A, a parent, and Player B, a toddler, are trying to accomplish Trip Home from Daycare.  Player A is running a stroller strategy while Player B is trying to attempt a walking strategy.  Here we enter a rules phase: Player B shouts "Walk! Walk! Walk!" and Player A has an opportunity to make rules.  In this example Player A decided that walking is a decent line and declines to make rules.

Now both players are employing a walking strategy, which is good, but suddenly we enter another rules phase.  Player B shouts "Shoulders! Shoulders!" and tries to get in front of Player A.  Here is where Player A misplays outright.  Player A decides that switching strategies so often is bad play, and so makes a rule "No shoulder rides."

The problem is that Player B decides to use that rule phase to shout "No!" and "Shoulders!" and to run ahead and to sit on the street.  So now we have to enter an enforcement phase and Player A has nothing but abject arbitrariness to use.

Basically this entire line of play was a mistake.  By wasting a rules phase by not making any progress on rulesmaking and not getting any short term benefit.  I had to go to stroller and run the, "If you want to walk you have to ask nicely."  I pretty much got blown out.

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