The other night at my brother’s home, my sister-in-law put out a tray of cold-cuts and assorted bagels along with other condiments, in order for us to make sandwiches. My son, however, under the belief pizza was going to be served chose not to eat. “Bay, go make a sandwich…” I said. “Uh, no, I’m good. I’m not really hungry,” He replied.
My son is nothing if not predictable. Once he has an idea in his head on the way something should be done, he digs his heals in further and become very stubborn, not wanting to move. Hence his repulsion for eating a sandwich, in replacement of pizza.
Not backing down I replied, “Go make yourself a sandwich.” “Mom, I’m fine, I’m not hungry right now,” He replied, his voice beginning to rise with ire. “Bay, you like ham, go make yourself a sandwich,” I reinforced while his cousins, became increasingly aware of our disagreement. “MOM, I’m fine, why won’t you believe me?” He asked, his voice raised even higher. “Because I know you. So here’s the deal, if you want to spend the night at your Grandmother’s tonight, I suggest you make yourself a sandwich, otherwise, you can come home with me, when I’m ready to leave” (Note, the “when I’m ready to leave” usually means later than when he’d like to leave).
Then I lifted my hand to show my five fingers and silently began counting down, beginning at 5, 4, 3…” until he turned in frustration and began to make himself a sandwich. My brother Bill, looked at my husband and asked, “Why aren’t you in on this?” to which he replied, “Why? Marsha has this handled–look the boy’s making a sandwich,” and I simply smirked back at him.
I am always the bad guy.
“How often do you have to bribe him to get stuff done?” Someone asked me. “Probably not any more than anyone else,” I added. “What else have you bribed him on recently?” they returned. “He’s currently getting a ‘B’ in French. If he can keep that up to the end of the semester, he’ll get a $50 Amazon gift card, which is well worth the cost,” I added. “Okay, any more?” “He shaved this morning so I gave him a set of headphones for his ipod. “Anything else?” “He finished writing his latest review of Star Wars for the student paper over the weekend and I gave him a new power cord for his devices.” “You seem to be bribing him more than the rest of us do with our kids,” they said. “Well to be clear, the last two things are stuff he was going to get anyway, regardless of the bribe. I just put receiving them to better use.” Then I added, “Have you ever said to your kids anything like, “If you don’t get a move on, we’re going to be late, an you know how much you hate being late?” I asked. “Yeah, almost every day…” “Then what is different between your bribe and mine?” I asked. “I’m not offering monetary reward,” He replied. “No, but you’re offering them a chance at getting something, a reward for not being late–even if minor and for themselves, they’re still feeling rewarded. I think sometimes we need to be creative so… whatever works, works.”It’s not the same…” He said. “Maybe not to you…” I replied and dropped the subject.
A short time later, the boy and his father left and the doll and I continued to enjoy ourselves.