My 4 year old stands in line at grown-up caffeine establishments waiting his turn patiently, he says thank you and please, he holds my hand when walking near cars, he rarely screams in public, and is quiet when I take a phone call.
Let me confess: occasionally, well, a little more than occasionally, I bribe him.
“I’ll buy you two things if you stand in line and don’t touch everything you see, say thank you and please if you want a cartoon later, hold my hand if you want your toy back, don’t scream if you want a treat…” You get the idea here. Bribery saves time, it saves the headaches, and on some occasions it helps you to appear superior to the other parents with the crazy children. Hey do not judge, we all like to feel superior at times and once you have a child those occasions are far and few between.
Reason to Bribe #1: It Saves My Sanity
Not having him run around inside a store covered in breakable merchandise within swinging distance of his cute little hand and getting my caffeine fix: that’s a merry morning start. The five minutes of peace I manage to get in the morning come in handy as I am rational enough, later, to pick and choose my battles.
Reason to Bribe #2: Complete Strangers Think I’m a Pro Parent
Now do not get me wrong, bribery does not always go to plan as sometimes after that “treat” (i.e. the sugar crash comes and oh boy can it nearly destroy even the strongest super-parent). I like to remind myself that my son’s sugar crash mirrors my own caffeine crash. We feel a high at the time of consuming our treat but when it begins to wear off we turn into vicious little animals. The secret is to lock ourselves in the house during the crash. So out in public we both smile and act patient, conveying to strangers that we are model citizens, and later, behind closed doors, we have eye-rolling, teeth gnashing, competitions. The key is, only I need to know the terrible sugar-crash truth.
Reason to Bribe #3: Longer Lasting Clothes
…Because they aren’t being stretched by your child pulling at you. Have you ever seen a child sucking on a lollipop pulling at his parents clothing? Or a child watching a TV show while kicking someone? I never have and you know why: because they are distracted. So for those of you out there who are sitting open-mouthed reading this and making notes on why I should be locked up in the mom-shame cell, relabel “Bribery” to the “Distraction Technique”. See, you already feel better.
Reason To Bribe #4: I Deserve Quiet Time, Too
Oh who am I kidding, I just want five minutes of peace! Five minutes to brush my hair, put on some lipstick , or just breath. So I bribe with candy and TV time. I’m going to give him those things anyway, at least this way I get something out of it. Win-win! Not all parent quiet-time is self indulging; for instance I often need to make business calls when at home, and bribed kids don’t run into the room naked while mommy is on a video chat with her co-workers. (At least it has not happened for a few months now, because it’s winter and a bit too cold.)
Reason to Bribe #5: Happy Kid = Happy Mom
Am I an awful parent raising a demanding mini me who thinks he will get anything he wants from life? I don’t think so. I am raising a child who will learn how to negotiate, who will realize there are goals to reach and in order to reach those goals you have to sometimes compromise and make decisions.
Why do we think the worst of other parents in our community? It definitely is not a lack of caffeine keeping us sane as we have an Acre or Three Dog Coffee on nearly every street corner. Lack of wine? Not likely in Wine Country, where even Starbucks has happy hour. So when you see me hand my kid a sugar laced gummy remember he could just as easily be throwing a tantrum and ruining everyone’s outing. Just let it be or offer a smile to me know I don’t need to ask the hospital for a refund! (By the way, they won’t give me one.)