Dear Washington: What would your mothers say?

Even though this whole government shutdown thing is all about division, it's kind of unifying in one important way: we, the people, are all of us exasperated, and we all think our elected officials, no matter the party, could really stand to work on their compromise skills.


We don't let our toddlers act this way, do we? If my kid gets in an argument with a friend on the playground, I'm not going to let her walk away and sulk about it, nor am I going to let her retaliate out of blind spitefulness. We tell our kids they have to work it out, and the way to do that is to talk it out. Taking your ball and going home never solved anything in the long term.


We teach our kids to keep their promises and finish what they started. We urge sharing from Day 1. We want them to stick up for their friends, but we also want them to learn to get along with strangers and maybe even with people they don't particularly like. That's life, we tell them. You might as well make the best of it. 


Think for yourself, we tell our children -- you don't always have to do what everyone else is doing. Do what's right, not what's popular, and do it for the right reasons.


A lot of people are saying that what Congress needs to break this gridlock is a miracle. I say what they need is a mother. Clearly, someone with a firm but gentle hand needs to sit everyone down, tease out the important issues (and put aside the side matters), pass out some snacks and get everyone talking again. Maybe, if mama is watching, these overgrown toddlers will stop their crying and finger-pointing, put on their big-boy or big-girl pants and figure out a way to work together like they're supposed to.


They all, at one time, had mamas who, presumably, raised them right. Now we, the people, are the mama. And mama is NOT happy. This mama in particular is hoping they get their work done, finally. After that? They're so grounded.