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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bribery, A Mother's Best Friend

Some parents claim they never bribe.

I do.  I admit it, too.  I figure we all need to get paid and well, for kids, sometimes that is in a little cash (emphasis on "little") and sometimes it's a small treat (emphasis on "small").

My friends in sales might point out that parenting involves being a salesperson.  I argued the other day (in a private email to a friend who sells for a living) that I'm no good at it and that I'm more of a dictator than a salesperson as a parent.

Ew.  That sounds bad. 

But kinda true too.  I *hate* playing all those parenting games of incentives and sticker charts and "if you do this, I'll do that".  Just take a shower because I've explained 1000 times why it's important and frankly it's just socially normative -- it's what dirty people *do*.  Just take out the trash because you're a member of the family.  Just do your homework because it's expected and I want you to do well.  Reality.  That's the kind of Mother I am. 

Let's call me the Nike Mom.  Just. Do. It.

Turns out, however, I *do* occasionally try the sell tactic.

My sons have always hated haircuts and I have *hideous* stories of *atrocious* temper tantrums (one includes the kid vomiting) as evidence of their opinion of sitting still and being shorn.

The older one (now 10) outgrew that lovely phase quite some time ago and now *likes* getting his hair cut.  I think it has a lot to do with his impending pre-teen status and the fact that the girls who cut his hair (it's *always* a cute blond) chat with him and tell him he's so handsome.

The younger one, however (5) still acts as if getting a haircut is equivalent to undergoing chemo.  Honestly, he really acts up.  I've tried different places, different times of day, bribing with candy.  No go.  And it doesn't matter WHO says he's handsome.  He could not care less.

And the resulting professional haircuts have left quite a bit to be desired. (Nobody can cut well when the person is a constant target.)

Figuring that my own attempt could not POSSIBLY be worse that what we've seen before, I decided to bribe.  Big time.

I went out and bought a $24.99 hair cutting kit at CVS.  Seriously, in two haircuts the thing pays for itself.

I then sat the lad down for a talk.

"You like Star Wars Legos, right?"

"YES!"  Good, client is hooked.

"Well, if you sit real still and let Mommy cut your hair, I will let you buy a $5 Lego toy."


And he did it.  Holy moly, now I wonder if this would have worked say, two years ago.  (I doubt it; three-year-old boy self-control  or ability to postpone gratification aren't well-known phenomena.)

So we went to Target to purchase the bribe.

Oh, those Lego people.  They *know* how to get parents over a barrel.  Anything under $5 is so ridiculously small that it's really, well, ridiculous.  And the selection was horrible -- nothing Star Wars-related at all.

So we ended up purchasing a $10 Star Wars Lego toy.  Still less than the price of a professional haircut.

And we're both happy.  Here is the haircut.

 Here is the toy.

Successful sale. Satisfied client; satisfied salesperson.

But seriously, just go brush your damn teeth, OK?

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