Last week I was having one of my regular skype calls with the grandparents, and as usual the kids were completely ignoring the screen. Addy made the mistake of drifting into my peripheral vision and I interrupted my conversation to yell at her, “Come here and talk to your grandparents or I am going to throw those toys in the trashcan.” My mother immediately admonished me not to make threats I don’t mean.
The thing is, I completely meant that threat. I was ready to pitch the toys if she didn’t come over and do her duty to the ‘rents. I knew it. She knew it. And she still ignored me. This happens a lot.
For some odd reason, the only threats that seem to work with my two knuckleheads are the ones that I clearly don’t mean. For example, “I will throw you into the canal” remains the most effective tool in my arsenal. It is so effective, one would think that I had dragged the kids across the street and dangled their toes into the dirty water at some point to make the threat real.
Second up on my list is “You can stay here by yourself”. Won’t put a jacket or shoes on? Refuses to get into the bike trailer? Is just being a general pain in my ass? Nothing causes an attitude adjustment faster than me putting on my shoes, grabbing my keys and heading for the door. Of course I cannot leave them home alone. Surely even they realize that. And even if I did, so what? They would be at home, with all their toys and full knowledge of where I keep the snacks. Does that sound so horrible? We mommies call that a vacation.
You know which ones don’t work? All the rest. “You can go sit in time out” – non-entity. I follow through on that threat often enough that they know I mean it, and yet they still push me far enough on a weekly basis to guarantee that their butt will be parked on the stairs for five minutes before the weekend begins.
Our trashcan has hosted more than a few jars of play-doh, half-filled coloring books, pink markers, paper crowns and assorted toys. This is exactly why I don’t buy them anything nice. I need to be able to take things away and permanently dispose of them before I go insane. Yet, the kids still don’t care. They still get into knock down, drag out fights over the stupidest shit and cause me to get up and throw the offending article into the bin.
I think the lesson to be learned from all of this is that when it comes to threats, it is best to go big or go home. Don’t waste your breath on something reasonable. Take a tip from VC Andrews and promise to lock them into the attic (or basement or bike shed) until their teenage years. Threaten to sell them to a pack of traveling salesmen. Tell ’em you are going to take a trip to Disney World and leave them at home alone.
So thanks mom for the great parenting advice, but I think I’ll stick to my tried and true method of lying as long as it is working. If they don’t come over and chat with you next week, into the canal they go!