What do they say about bad parenting techniques? They come back to bite you in the ass? I’m quickly realizing anything that’s working now has an expiration date. Straight to the point: bribery has officially backfired. Vivi has turned this whole friendly extortion game around, and I get the sense I’m starting to lose control here. Yup, she’s definitely starting to uncover my weaknesses, and I can’t easily just talk her into things anymore either. I’m not saying game over, but ahhh WTF am I supposed to do now?! I’m not panicked, but yes I am. I am kind of freaking out. She almost ALWAYS listened to me. Maybe put up a little shit fit here and there, but usually she’d just go along with it, especially if there was a “treat” involved.
A treat. Oh God. Our dog gets treats. Well no, he used to when Tom and I actually paid attention to him. I should have known better. Even a subpar dog trainer probably knows he shouldn’t use treats to reinforce behavior. It’s probably a big no-no and all the other dog trainers gossip about this poor asshole behind his back and talk about how they would do it differently with their dog, and studies show dogs do better as new grads if they weren’t bribed with treats, and can’t they just give the treats guy a goddamn break?! He’s doing the best he can!!!
Okay, I’ll give you an example. Naptime used to without fail sound like this: “Ok time for a nap! See you when you wake up, love you!” “Ok, love you!” I understand that sounds insane because what kid likes to nap, but I swear she loved them like a homesick college freshman counting down the hours till Thanksgiving Break. Then one day I was met with a big vindictive “NO!”
Whatta ya mean, no? Where the fuck is this coming from? You don’t actually expect me to accept that you’re turning into a person with your own free will and toddler agenda, do you?!
I promptly learned that I could turn her no into a YAY by “allowing” her to take special books and dolls in to nap with her too.
Then it turned into, “okay take a nap and when you wake up you can eat ice cream.” Fuck it. I mean it didn’t go from books to ice cream in one day, but I’m trying to keep this post under 10,000 words. Then after a little time she started announcing all of the things she was going to do/get after she woke up from a nap: “And when I get up I can eat chocolate and play and watch a Care Bears movie!” Ummmm, yup?? All those things….because you’re promising you’ll shut your eyes and give me two hours of freedom. I don’t even have to say a word; she is bribing herself. And then came the days where she wouldn’t even buy into her own bribes and decided to bring the game to another level.
When my sister-in-law, Kitty, asked us to meet her and the kids at the library, I thought, great! Vivi loves hangin’ at the ‘brary and we have some overdue books anyway. Like this one. I shit you not.
Dude, what?! "Daddy", are you a sick fucking joke? This is a real book from the local library. Look at that illustration! "Sweet dreams Viv, I love you. Oh and there is a chance I'll fucking eat you and your brother for dinner, Goodnight!" Everyone okay after that one? I'm not. Anyway, we got to the library and the place was a mob scene. Is there a toddler convention in here today? Whatever, let’s find the kids. I didn’t even have to look at Vivi; I could just feel her apprehension walking into this tiny people clusterfuck, but I fell back on the ancient parenting technique called ignore. Then the first ‘can we leave’ bomb dropped. “Vivi we just got here and look, there’s Sambo!” That bought me about 1 ½ minutes. “Mama, I want to go home”. Uggh, I just got you and Bill dressed, loaded you into the car, and hauled you both into this underground kid rave. We’re not going anywhere for at least a half hour.
“Mama, I think Billy wants to go home.” “No, he’s trying to climb up some lady’s leg, he’s good.” “Mama I really need to go home, let’s go home” on repeat. (God, it’s so easy to have an adult conversation while this is happening – usually the perfect time to dive into subjects like existentialism or the Fall of the Roman Empire). “Mama I’m hungry, I need to go home and eat peanut butter crackers.” Each time, I met her with a quick glance and an “okay, let’s just see what books Billy picks out” or something equally moronic, and she was not having it. She threw a few more self-serving pleads out and then she finally got quiet. Yessss, the dingy bead mazes over there must have caught her eye.
“Mama, oooooh we can go home and watch the news!”
Umm, what did she just say?? My 2 ½ year old just tried to bribe me with the promise of getting to watch the news if I take her home? Oh, she’s not taking bribes anymore, no, no, no! She’s handing them out! You should know, anything that is not Kids Netflix, Amazon or YouTube is all “the news” to Vivi and it’s her worst home entertainment adversary. There is no greater disappointment for her in the morning than when I kick it with Savannah, Matt and Al. Bottom line, this kid knows I like to watch the news, especially during election season.
I knew she’d never follow through on her bribe (which she did not, by the way), but I can’t say I always do either. I wasn't falling for her shenanigans this time, but I won’t pretend I’m not a little nervous that she’s learning how to butter me up. She has covertly been working on outsmarting me, toddler Jedi mind tricking me if you will. But who is her teacher? Me! She is learning this shit from me! And Ouch, would you look at that? Something just bit my ass.