Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I am pretty sure I have a secret genius locked up inside of me.
Don't worry, I'll explain.
My house looks like a pile of trash. It's a combination of starting too many projects, being bitter about doing so many chores and therefor taking a silent stand by not doing chores (I bet $10 that you've done this at least once in your life), and the fact that about a month ago I told my 3 sons that I was done arguing and that from now on they did not have to do chores in shared spaces (they still have to clean their own rooms).
Of course I explained that they still could do chores, and that chores done without being told and with a good attitude would receive prizes. The result is a trash pile house and greedy little boys who think every time they put their plate in the sink or take off their shoes they deserve a wii game.
This may be a little exaggerated, but only a little. Needless to say, things aren't working.
But...the prize closet is almost empty and I have new system ready to roll out. In the meantime I step over and around filth and shove piles out of my way. Every once in awhile when its more then I can handle I cajole and send loud reminders into the empty air that doing chores equals prizes remember?!?!?!?! This doesn't usually work but every once in awhile I get a son who wants a prize, cant find his underwear or is (shocking gasp) just kindly offering to help out.
When I see these good behaviors I reinforce by giving "bonuses." "Bonuses" are like get of jail free card, they can get you out of picking up dog poop, or reading extra chapters, or ice cream instead of apples for dessert etc... or really whatever means I also get yummy dessert, dont have to pick up dog poop or get to go to bed early.
This evening there was no space left to eat at the table. They had to clean in order for us to have dinner. So my three little monsters tackled their task with gusto and
They were done. The only reward was that they could eat dinner versus starve. I'm very kind like that.
But, seeing how well they had done and what good moods they were in, I decided to do a social experiment. Or teach them a lesson in the power of positive attitude. Or mess with their heads by playing a sick joke.
It's all about perspective.
I loudly announced that if someone would pick up the floor under the table by the time I had dinner ready there would be a "bonus." And I left it at that. I did not say another word while I cooked.
Oldest son began cleaning, he knows a good deal when he hears one and cant resist the mystery of the "bonus."
Middle son wandered around whining and getting in everyones way.
Youngest son sat quietly at the table waiting for food because he was starving because he refused to his lunch at school....again.
I finished cooking and asked my husband if the job was complete. He announced that oldest son had completed the task on his own with a good attitude.
Now for the good part. I announced the bonus. drum roll please /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
"The bonus is the double sided lightsaber"
CUE ENDLESS TEARS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Here's where you need more background information, because I know your all getting ready to drive your car or hop in a plane to get over here and clean under my table so you too can receive a "bonus." Lightsabers bring out that desire in everyone. the force is strong with them.
But I promise it's not that cool. the toy is like one inch tall and doesnt even need batteries.
Our sons are always trying to get my husband and I to buy $100 lego sets so that they can have one piece inside, like a light up brick or a lifejacket for a minifigure or a lightsaber etc... So we discovered (after approximately 1000 no's and arguments in public places) that we could buy these silly little pieces from sites like Amazon.com for just a few dollars. We promptly ordered the most coveted lego item, the lightsaber, or 13 of them to be exact, because they only cost $4 all together. the problem was that 13 doesn't divide by 3, something my 3 little math geniuses figured out rather quickly. problem #2 was that one of the lightsabers was doublesided, but just one. NOT 3, I repeat NOT 3. After the 8th time they begged me for the double sided saber I announced that I would decide its fate and no one was allowed to ask for it.
Which brings us back to tonite. The moment I announced the "bonus" I sent two little boys spiralling into complete and utter misery and despair. They came unhinged in their crying/screaming/hysterical sobbing at the thought that they had a chance to earn the coveted item and had passed on it just to be lazy. I was told how mean I was, how unfair it all was, how I had tricked them etc... about 5 minutes into the fits as I struggled to hold back my giggles at their behavior my middle son realized and then announced, instantly calm, that he could make his own double lightsaber out of two that he had already earned. My youngest still didn't get it and I think he may have gone to bed still mad.
So there you have it. I gave my sons the opportunity to earn a free toy and when I delivered the toy I shattered two young lives. I think there's a secret evil genius inside of me that caused these events to occur. Who would have thought that giving a gift would teach such a lesson? My secret genius, that's who.
As a final note, please do not use any of the ideas above. they are bad parenting methods, I tried them so you don't have to. I also promise that I have exaggerated and that I am usually a better parent than this. It's just I've been really tired lately. You understand right?