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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bribes and Imaginary Reward Charts

I really feel like I've really been effing with my kids' heads this week. Not only has it been a rough, long week filled with dragging their poor asses all over the universe and into all kinds of heavy emotional scenes, but I've also thrown in some head games, even if by accident. 

Well, kinda.

I mean, how long do you think it's cool to dangle a carrot in front of your kids? And just when they get close enough to touch it, you yank it away again out of reach?  Well, that's what I was doing this past week out of pure survival.  

How else would I have maneuvered CR and The Love Fairy through 14 hours of driving across the desert, a 7-hour viewing of a dead body, a 2-hour Latin Mass (really), a 1-hour graveside service, three ridiculously late nights at various relatives' homes, and I think about 232 times in and out of cars, buses, vans, and their carseats?

Yeah, that's what I was thinking.  

I did whatever I could to keep the screaming and whining and fighting and complaining to a bare minimum.  And I'm not sure I succeeded with that bare minimum part because I almost throttled them about 92 times this past week.

And in between the many close calls with the physical pain I wanted to inflict, I baited them with visions of grandeur.

"If only you will (insert whatever you can imagine - i.e. help mommy clean up that mess, stop hitting your sister, be quiet during this eternal Latin Mass, get in the car without complaining, stop drawing on the carpet of the condo we are renting, etc. etc. ETC.), yes, Mommy will buy you that new Littlest Pet Shop chinchilla you've been dreaming about." 

And all week long, (I repeat, All. Week. Long!) I held this bribe over their head. They kept asking "Today mama?  Today, if we are good, today, after the mass, today after the cemetery, today after going to grandma and grandpa's house, then we will get our LPS'?  

"Yes, my girlies," I would say, "once you get three checkmarks in the good column, you will get your LPS."   

And the thing is my good columns?  Well, there kinda imaginary.  You see, I've tried the reward chart extravaganza that Supernanny espouses on her reality show, but I am simply not disciplined enough to follow-through.  I'll draw up a chart and after a few days, that chart is long forgotten.  So I've resorted to imaginary reward charts and it suits my style much, much better.

So the girls will do something good?  I'll yell out, "Great! That's a checkmark in the good column."

Then they'll hit each other two hours later.  "Okay girls, goodbye good checkmark!"

But then they'll help clean up their toys all over my parents' house and I'll hug them and say "Great job! You just got your good checkmark back!"

But in the middle of a tantrum when the concept of listening to mommy is like so impossible, I would yell out "That's it!  Two checkmarks in the bad column!" 

I know it sounds friggin' cruel.  It really does as I'm writing this.  I'm sounding like a deranged lunatic...

Well, okay then.

So for days this went on.  The imaginary checkmarks going up in the good column and the bad column and then being erased and then put back and even though I was damn good at math, I still couldn't compute where we were with getting to that magical number of three good checkmarks.

But in the end, you'll be happy to know that somewhere along the way, we got there. After the long emotional and physical haul that was this week, three good checkmarks were indeed earned.   

And CR and The Love Fairy are now proud owners of two new LPS creatures, not chinchillas because Target was out of these I guess, but instead a pink spider named "Hearts" and a brown bear named "Chocolate."  

I'm not sure my insane methods are helping my girls with their concept of math or their understanding of rewarding good behavior or their willingness to listen to their mama, but it sure as hell helped me this week.  

And sometimes isn't that what counts?

Or am I insane? 

You tell me.


  1. oh yeah, you're insane.

    But I'll let you in on little secret. WE ALL ARE!! That's what God does to those of us CRAZY enough to have children.

  2. I agree with Vodka Mom - we are all insane. If we weren't, we would never survive this motherhood gig.

    I hate charts of any kind and have NEVER been able to follow through. I have a hard enough time making a grocery list.

  3. Whatever works! I tried the chart thing too, but like you was never disciplined enough to keep with it... much like every thing else new I start in my life! The main point is, you promised something and then followed through.. The only trouble now is they'll start expecting something EVERY TIME you promise it TRUST ME... they don't forget!

    You had a trying week and you did what you had to do for your sanity and the safety of others! Good job!

  4. Looks like the plan worked! If it ain't broke don't fix it!

    I say you got a keeper of plan!

    heh heh

  5. Yep, you are coocoo for coco puffs, lady.


    Nice job negotiating your arent insane, you are a parent...we're not here to judge, trust me...we have our own baggage.

  6. it's not insanity... it's survival. i am hoping (for my own sake) the overarching theme of love will off-set anything sketchy we may do out of desperation!

  7. Holy crap! After the days' events you explained, I say anything goes. Just reading about your week has made me tired and I'm a grown adult. Way to go ... again you pull off the unthinkable - 3 small children experiencing all aspects of your funeral week. I think you did one helluva job! XO

  8. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I would probably have done the exact same thing.

    It feels weird to be commenting on your blog. I don't know why. I feel like I should say something deeply personal instead. How about this: "He's got high hopes. He's got high hopes. He's got high apple pie in the sky hopes!"

  9. It depends how you look at it:

    Insane to go through all of that with children!

    Effing Brilliant to find a bribe that worked all week long!

    I bow down to you once again.

  10. Oh dearest Queen MWOB aka Lee, guess what?

    You got tagged!

    By me!

    Hate me? Don't be hatin'! K?


  11. OK, you and I ARE two peas in a pod! Seriously, switch out your kids for my boys and replace LPS' with Legos and I could've written that post. I'm kind of floored. And I am now an ardent follower of my LA doppelganger!

    And can I just say that when I saw Vodka Mom in the 1st comment post, well, I knew your blog must be something else, b/c she manages to be in all the virtual places I haunt. Seriously, EVERY ONE!

    Thanks so much for coming to the Bitchin' Club and becoming ad adding me to your blogroll. It means a lot! :))

  12. My charts usually end up in the garbage- colored on and destroyed by lil ones. I loathe Jo Frost and am hoping her children are 10X's wilder then my own.
    Don't worry not insane just like me~

  13. its nice to know that I'm not the only one in the world who uses bribery (aka the reward system) with my kid. I don't think your insane. I think you are genius.

  14. Right on ladies for all of your encouraging replies - so I've learned we're all insane and that's all good.

    So if any of you are checking back on these comments (I mean do you really?) I'm trying to get in the habit of emailing you back directly if you leave me a comment that inspires me and A LOT of you have a no-reply thing set up so when I try to reply to you it's like not letting me.

    Did you know that? Do you want that? Am I clueless? If anyone knows, let me know 'cause I'm all about learning at this point...

    Here's to BRIBES and IMAGINARY CHARTS! Yippee!

  15. We do the chart too, and I love it. But I don't know, you just don't seem like a chart girl. You seem a little more free-flowing I guess! Ha.
    Charts fit with my super-anal, always have to be in control personality, and my little terrorist has the same personality, so he likes the charts too. He'll even say to hubby at the end of the day, "Dad, guess what, I lost two stars today but I earned three." He's only three, but he always keeps track.

  16. As long as they think you are a skilled mathematician who is keeping track of the marks, that's all that matters. All they care about is getting their LPS so I think you are in the clear. "If it ain't broke don't fix it!"

  17. OMG - I just popped in for a minute and read this one post and I'm cracking up. Are you married to a Latin lover like myself? This sounds like stuff my boys and I get subjected to.


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