Monday, May 5, 2008

If You Give a Kid a Truly Disgusting Story, He'll Probably Want You to Stop

Remember the old days when your parents would bark "No, because I said so!" and that was that? Now it’s a no-no. We're supposed to explain things clearly and patiently to our children. We consider their views, listen to their feelings, email their therapists, and then tell them, "No, because your therapist said so."

As a single mom, I worried about keeping my boys in line. I didn’t exactly want to be a dad, yet I needed some way to keep them from destroying the house and each other.

Remember the never-ending 'Why?' questions? Frustrating, especially when combined with the ‘No, I won’t’ snipe and the incredibly smackable ‘You’re not the boss of me’ retort.

Child: Mom, can I jump off the stairs?
Mom: No.
Child: Why not?
Mom: You might get hurt.
Child: No, I won't!

And around we’d go, wearing us down until we’d wonder if jail time for assault might be a nice way to get some peace and quiet (it is, by the way). However, with rising court costs, you might want to consider another option I discovered – the over-the-top, graphic explanation that grosses them out so badly they never even consider doing something that moronic ever again.

Child: Mom, can I jump off the stairs?
Me: No.
Child: Why not?
Me: You might break your scapula on the banister and spurt blood all over the carpeting. While we’re at the emergency room having your bones re-set, the blood will set into the carpet and never come out, so when your friends come over, they'll see the stain and ask about it, and I'll tell them and they'll laugh at you for trying something so ridiculous. Would you like a cookie?

See the steps?
1) Gross them out
2) Mention potential embarrassment
3) Lead the topic in another direction

Eventually my kids dreaded the gruesome responses so much that when they made the mistake of asking to do something dangerous, their faces would twist in fear and my stories were no longer necessary. Too bad, since I had nearly turned it into an art form.

Recently, however, instead of asking permission, they’ve opted for the quicker route of just doing whatever stupid thing they wanted to do. At least I don't have to hear the whining and arguing. However, accidents have increased slightly, so as an added deterrent, I’ve amended our agreement to include the following ‘emergency room’ financial rider:

I, _______________________, do hereby agree that if/when I damage myself or my parents’ dwelling, I will be held responsible for any costs incurred in the repair thereof, as well as any damages incurred by siblings, neighbors, and/or pets, in the pursuit of incredibly stupid stunts that I knew better than to attempt in the first place.

Said costs will be deducted from my allowance, and my children’s allowance after that, until repaid in full.
Interest will be added at the discretion of my mother and the Federal Reserve Bank. I understand that management also retains the right to publish, for profit and potential embarrassment, any inane misadventures attached to said costs.

_______________________ date_____

______________________ date_____

Feel free to make it your own!


Packsaddle said...

helpful legal hint:

no statutory declaration is complete without proper notarization.

ScottMGS said...

That's a great idea, Annie! Since I have late-stage teenagers, I don't think the stories will do it but the contract might work *real* well.

rita said...

Don't forget your kids' grandchildrens' allowances. Some things will take a looooong time to pay off.