You reach a point with your kids when you can’t be rational anymore. That’s when you start threatening them. Here are some of my most recent futile attempts at parenting.
Threat: ”If you ask to watch TV one more time, I’m throwing it out the window.”
Problem: Many things wrong here. For starters, what the hell am I going to do without a TV? Also, I live in a nice community where throwing something out the window would result in extreme social ostracism.
Revision: “If you ask to watch TV one more time, I’ll wander into the kitchen and eat all the brownies until I figure out if I’m willing to distract you from the television by enthusiastically suggesting that we play Zingo.”
Threat: ”If you don’t get dressed right now, you’re never getting dressed again.”
Problem: Not letting your child wear clothes is a red flag to child services. It also breaks your heart when after 10 days they start begging you to let them get dressed.
Revision: ”If you don’t get dressed, I’m going to do that weird thing where I become very still and stare out the window until you ask me if I’m ok.”
Threat: “If you don’t brush your teeth, they’ll turn green and fall out.”
Problem: Kids really don’t care at all about what happens in the future unless by “the future” you mean the next 8 seconds.
Revised: ”If you don’t brush your teeth, they’ll get this weird orange film on them. Look at your little brother’s teeth. See that stuff on them? He has that because he’s 2 and insane and screams if we try to put a tooth brush in his mouth. Also if you don’t brush, you’ll have to go to the dentist and even though I’ve told you the dentist is AWESOME and SUPER FUN and a PLACE THAT GIVES YOU STICKERS, it actually kind of sucks and you want to avoid it at all costs.”
Threat: ”If you don’t stop crying, I’m seriously going to freak out.”
Problem: Words with hard K’s are scary when you don’t know what they mean, so sometimes this actually works. However, if it doesn’t work on sound alone, I’m unable to simply “freak out” on cue; it’s something that has to happen organically. Forcing a freak out to prove you aren’t full of shit is more psycho than actually freaking out.
Revision: ”If you don’t stop crying, I’ll continue to ask you nicely what’s wrong, then turn my head and silently scream OH MY GOD, SHUT UP! while fashioning my index finger as a pistol in my mouth. I’m also afraid this loud, obnoxious and completely unnecessary blubbering is going to give me tinnitus.”
Threat: “Going to bed with dirty feet attracts monsters.” (Pretty hacky but I said it. Creativity tends to waver after 7pm)
Problem: He’s 4, and monsters are still very real. Now I fear he’ll obsessively start washing his feet like he’s at The Ganges River cleansing for a afternoon prayer.
Revised: ”Going to bed with dirty feet will … actually, you know what? It doesn’t matter AT ALL. I just feel like I’m not very helpful around here sometimes, and one of the only things I can do to contribute is keep you clean. So, when you go to bed, I don’t feel like I’ve been a good father if your feet… wait, are you still awake?”
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