“The internet’s down.”
“Have you tried rebooting the modem? Unplug it, blow on the connectors, and plug it back in.”
“My phone is frozen.”
“Turn it off and back on again.”
“Mom, my tablet won’t do ANYTHING!”
“I think we have to do a hard reset.”
In this age of technological wonder and digital magic, I’ve learned a couple of things. Number one – I will permanently hose one laptop per calendar year. Number two – 59.35% of the time, you can fix what’s broken by powering down and powering back up again.
This technique also works with humans.
Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, only to wake up the next morning with dorkish looking eyes and a new outlook on life? How about your kids? Does Time Out work so well because the boring yellow hall is terrifying enough to scare them into submission? I think it has less to do with the horrible paint color and more to do with the fact that they are separate from you and you are separate from them, and as you spend time separate from each other together, you have a chance to breathe and start fresh.
There are also very few problems naptime can’t fix if you’re under the age of five. Just shut her down and then start her up again.
I was recently talking to my older and wiser sister about her relationship with her nine-year-old daughter. She said they have a house rule that if emotions are escalating, either one of them can pause and politely ask to press reset. Because I have my very own personal tween hormonal vortex living under my roof, this idea is appealing to me.
Sometimes we’re in a conversation that is completely toxic and I don’t know who got snotty first. I just know I want it to stop. But I don’t want to be the one to stop it because that would mean somehow agreeing that it was okay for her to give me “that look” or speak to me “that way”, and sometimes I’m too tired to figure out who rolled her eyes first.
But if one of us could say, “Can we please hit reset?” and we could both breathe and get our neutral, nice, not-a-jerk face on, that would be beautiful.
I’ve seen this work with my husband.
“WHAT!?” you might be screaming at your computer. “First you tell me that things are sometimes strained between you and your eleven-year-old and now you’re telling me you don’t have a perfect marriage?!” Indeed. I don’t. I guess maybe it’s perfect in that we never give up trying to improve. But we have days. Do you have days?
Recently we were having a “day”, a “day” that had lasted a week. We were healing from a fight that we’d resolved, sort of, but there was still weirdness between us. It was the kind of awkwardness that should never exist between two people who have flushed their sinuses in the same bathroom or gone through childbirth together three times.
Several days into this awkward chill, Dan called me from work with a “Heeeyyyy. How’s it going?” and I couldn’t take it anymore. Thinking of my sister and her reset technique, I said, “Could this please not be weird anymore? Can we please just hit reset?”
“Yes, please,” Dan said.
We both breathed a sigh of relief. And it worked. When he got home, things were different. We had cleared the air and we were different.
Now sometimes we still need to do some crazy work to get through our problems, like Dan fixing my computer with his dark magic black box and command prompt ninjitsu. But after the work and discussion and tweaking are done, a good solid reset really helps to seal the deal.
Try it. It works at least 59.35% of the time.