Adventures In Parenting

Friday, June 19, 2009

I am about to share something that will horrify every responsible parent to read this blog.

On Monday, I paid my child to take his vitamins.

While you recover your breathing abilities after your gasp of shock, I will say it for you to save you the effort: I know I'm a terrible mother. I promise it will never happen again! It was a moment of weakness! Let it be known to all future generations of Winters reading this blog that their (great-great-great-) ancestress committed the mortal sin of bribery!

Now, may I explain?

It started out innocently enough. Jude does not care for a particular herbal blend juice that I give the kids as part of their nutritional regimen. The product is called HFB (a.k.a. "green juice"), and although it is not necessarily the most delicious beverage available, it is sweet enough that Noah downs it without a flinch (only an occasional scrinchy face at the strange aftertaste) and Jabin drinks it mixed with Ningxia Red and likes it so much he usually asks for more! (He doesn't get more, though. It's a supplement, not a snack.)

Not Jude. He's got some serious psychological blockage going on where this drink is concerned. I've given up on trying to get him to drink it straight, so I also give it to him mixed with Ningxia Red. Up until now, he has usually managed to eventually down the 2-oz. glass, albeit with much groaning and complaining. No matter how much Jason and I tried to convince him that he was only torturing himself by prolonging the process, we could never convince him to just chug it back and get it over with.

On days we have shakes, I just put his in there so he is none the wiser. I seriously don't have the energy to fight that battle every two days. However, yesterday we were NOT having shakes, so I gave his brothers their drinks, then plopped Jude's down in front of him.

That was when the Strong-Willed Monster emerged.

"I will NEVER drink this juice," he declared.

Well. You'd think the child would have figured out by now that I am Super Mom-Lady. And Super Mom-Lady always wins.

"Really. Well, you have to sit there until you do. Even if it means you sit there all day and have to sleep in that chair."

With a firm set of his jaw, the Strong-Willed Monster prepared to out-stubborn Super Mom-Lady.

I let him go pee once. I let him have a drink of water (but he was sitting right beside the cooler and did not have to get out of the chair to get one.) But I did not let him lounge. Or go to the bathroom again. And when lunch rolled around, I did not let him have any. I told him he would have to drink his juice first. I figured I needed to exert a little more pressure, since he had surprised me by sitting in the chair for four hours already--even after the other kids had all been outside jumping on the tramp, and he had to sit on his chair.

He surprised me even more by sitting quietly in his chair while the other kids ate lunch around him. This, Mr. "I'm-ALWAYS-Hungry" decided he'd rather be stubborn than have lunch, even though I made sure that all the foods available were things he liked. This was when I had my first inkling that this battle may be more challenging than I had originally imagined.

During this time, various adults had tried to get him to see the logic behind simply getting it over with. Eventually, we uncovered Jude's nefarious plan: to sit there until midnight, when all the adults were asleep, and then pour it down the drain.

This, I suspect, is how he managed to "finish" his juice the previous time, when I left him alone for about ten minutes. I couldn't prove anything, but I definitely wouldn't put it past the Strong-Willed Monster, so this time I made sure he was never left alone for more than ten seconds at a time. When Jude finally revealed his devious scheme, my mom (who has been visiting me this week) informed him that an adult would always be sitting next to him, awake.

This didn't seem to have much effect.

By the time 2:30 p.m. rolled around, I had done pretty much all I could do in the immediate vicinity of the kitchen. I was getting antsy to get to town, because there were some errands to be done, and soccer started in three hours. And Jude was still sitting there at the table. He had "hidden" the shot-glass in a stand he had made of the water glasses that were sitting on the table, as an outward display of defiance, I guess--You can't even make me look at it, let alone drink it!

This was when I started to get weak. Like the Man In Black during his battle of wits with Vizini, I actually got a little nervous. Really, I just ran out of patience--I didn't really want to have to sit with the child until midnight, obviously. I decided stronger tactics were in order. I decided to try and give him some positive reason for wanting to drink the juice.

"Jude, if I laid a buck on the table, and said you could have it if you drank your juice in the next minute, would you do it?"

"What do you mean?"

"If I gave you a dollar, would you drink your juice in a minute?"


"Alright. In that case, if your juice isn't gone in the next five minutes, you are going to get a spank on your bum. And you still have to drink the juice."

"I'm still not going to drink it!" he wailed. "Not for a dollar or a spank!"

"We'll see... Three minutes left... Two minutes... One minute..."

He finally started to crack. "Okay! I'll take the dollar!"

"Nope, too late! You should have taken it when you had the chance! Thirty seconds."

He started to get quite upset for the first time all day. "No, no, Mom, I'll take the dollar!"

I was just ready to be done with this battle.

"Okay, Jude, I'll tell you what. I'll let you have the dollar, but you have to drink the juice in the next thirty seconds."


I looked at my watch. "Ready?... Go!"

Darnit if that kid didn't drink that juice in 10 seconds. Afterwards there was much re-iterating how much better it would have been if he had just done that at 8:30 that morning, and how silly it had been to miss all that playing and lunch just for that. Later there was even more re-iterating that he would never get paid to drink his juice again!

I was slightly worried that the lesson didn't take. However, on Wednesday morning, when I put his juice down in front of him and timed him, he downed the glass in 13 seconds.

I still feel a little guilty about the dollar. But if it helped the child truly learn his lesson, I also feel that it was a dollar well spent. And, even if I had to resort to some devious tactics of my own, Super Mom-Lady still emerged the winner!

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  1. DEFINITELY worth the buck!

    Go easy on yourself. Most parents bribe but they cloak it with the word "allowance". Really, it's bribery to get their chores done.

  2. Oh very definitely worth it. And he drank without expecting a dollar the next day. I think he just needed a way out of the stubborn corner he had backed himself into and the dollar provided him a way to exit honourably, at least in his own mind...

  3. Vicki - I guess there are some bribes that are usually considered more "acceptable" than others (e.g. "You don't get any dessert until you eat your peas!") However, I agree--this one was worth it!

    Rohini - Very good point. Sometimes I forget to be sensitive to their need to "save face" too. I'm seeing the strong-willed side of this boy more often, lately, so I may have to keep that need more at the fore-front of my mind. Thank you!


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