Slovakia’s conflicts are insoluble, while there are no adults to own them

Conflict solution is a skill that can be applied to both personal and civilizational problems.

As a result of the Dzurinda government’s failure to actively listen to legitimate grievances, we got over a decade of Fico.As a result of the Dzurinda government’s failure to actively listen to legitimate grievances, we got over a decade of Fico. (Source: SME)

Activities Day. Colouring and cutting out shapes of paper to make objects. Not everyone enjoys Activities Day, and Bruce is especially leery of it. He is even grumpier when he finds out he won’t be going on his walk, but will be spending the day fiddling with scissors instead.

We sit on couches facing each other. Normally Bruce, 27 and developmentally delayed, is having a shower at this time, hurrying to get out the door towards the lake. But today Bruce is pouting and striking his knee with his fist.

As for me, I’ve got time to wait him out. Activities Day lasts for hours, which is longer than Bruce can keep this up. I take out my laptop and get started on the day’s paperwork.

Bruce gets up and says he is going to get his boots. But the next thing I see is Bruce hobbling down the garden path, sans boots, intent on doing his lake walk whatever rewarding Activities may have been planned for him.

I corral him and lead him scowling back to the van, and then drive him to his scheduled destination. We are both cross with each other, and on leaving he omits to give me his usual fist bump.

Just before I am due to go pick him up, his art teacher calls, and says Bruce was complaining about me. “Something about how you are always on the computer,” she said.

On my way to get him, I have an inspiration. Bruce can nurse a grudge for days, and I’m not in the mood for an afternoon of aggrieved disobedience. As he gets in the van, I turn to him with contrition and say: “Bruce, I think I may have upset you by using the computer this morning instead of talking to you. That was selfish of me – I could just as easily have done my work after you left. Please accept my apology, and let me buy you a lunch that we can take to the lake.”

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