Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Slingshots and Arrows

A bird flew into my office window today.  We’re five stories up.  The bird smacked the window, and then fell/flew away.  Its fate remains unknown.  Perhaps it thought that I was harboring egg-stealing green pigs in my credenza. 
If you don’t get that joke, then just count yourself lucky.
We’re at swim practice now, after a very pleasant homework-doing time.  9yo (yes, he’s 9 now.  10 next month) brought home his Scholastic book order form yesterday, and he wants me to order a rather expensive book for him.  I do normally buy a book or two for him, but of the $2.95 paperback variety, not the $30 slipcase-enclosed hardcover type. My normal policy re purchase of unnecessary stuff is “put it on your birthday/Christmas list”, and this was exactly the approach I took regarding this book.  9yo badly wants this book, though, and he spent a good part of the afternoon and evening trying to persuade me to buy it for him now rather than next month when he turns 10. 
Yesterday, we had an absolutely dreadful time with homework.  9yo, who is the sweetest of children, is given to drama and fits of anxiety (yes, I know ALL ABOUT fallen apples and their proximity to their trees of origin), and he extended himself yesterday over long division.  His disposition ruined by the homework debacle, he also complained about dinner, clarinet practice, Lego cleanup, brushing and flossing (he has braces now, so flossing is required) and bedtime.  I was so exasperated by 9 pm that I couldn’t even summon the good humor to play a tune on the world’s smallest violin, which is my usual response to children’s complaints.  Well, that, and the evergreen “life isn’t fair”.  Suddenly inspired, I pulled out the kitchen calendar. 
“See this?” I said. “Tomorrow is May 3.  Your book order is due on May 13.  If you can go for ten days without complaining, sighing, groaning, stomping, or in any way indicating your displeasure with the many injustices of your daily life, I will buy you that book”. 
“I can do that!” he said enthusiastically.
“Not so fast”, I said.   “No complaining means NOOOOOO complaining.  Not when it’s time to wake up and not when it’s time to go to bed.  Not when it’s time to practice, read, do homework, make your bed, take out trash, or write thank-you notes.  Not about what we’re eating, and not about what you’re not allowed to eat.  Not when it’s time to come inside, or to turn off the TV, or to clean up your toys.  I’m talking about absolutely zero complaining for ten solid days”.
“You got it!” he said.
“We’ll see”, I said.
SO.  Day 1 is going very well, very well indeed.  Motivated by the prospect of getting this book which he so wants, 9yo has, since this morning, made his bed, hung up his pajamas AND his brother’s, practiced clarinet, taken out trash, and put away his clean folded laundry.  When it was time to leave the house to come to the pool, he put on his shoes and grabbed his bag without so much as a sigh.  If the rest of today and the following 9 days go as well as this, then I will consider this $30 very well spent. 


  1. Bribe = JOY! Well done!

    We'll see how long he lasts. ;)

  2. Day 3 and still going strong! I'm helping him with a daily AM reminder :)

  3. He better not pout, he better not cry...

  4. That is how I handled my three, especially the boy, the oldest, a trial.