• Deborah

Wear Glasses. Punch me in the Arm. Ah, parenting!


My son is 7 years old. He forgets that toilet paper shouldn’t be totally unrolled for fun. He forgets that tennis balls shouldn’t be hit against the side of the house right next to the kitchen windows. He forgets that feet aren’t allowed on the top of the dinner table (at dinner time). It’s no big surprise he has a hard time remembering his reading glasses even when he’s got a book in his hand.

My son has a hard time distinguishing an “e” from an “o” in certain fonts but he’s a 7-year old boy. He doesn’t seem to notice it. But we all know it’s impossible to understand a story (let alone learn a fact or two) if you think the “pantry” is a “party” and a “horse” is a “home”. But I don’t want to be a nag. My son already wears hearing aids. He’s wonderful about them. Nagging about glasses… well, it just seems so unrelenting.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved nagging when I was a full-time, stay-at-home Mom. Nagging was a way to pass the day (and to pass on my frustration and stress). But as a working Mom, there’s the “ratio factor.” I’m not around my children as much and thus, I need to pay attention to the quality of our interactions. The good news is that I have my own company so I make my own hours. I take off from 5 – 7 pm so that I can be home with my children (and return to work 8 – 11 pm). Although I spend most of that “quality” time running multiplication drills, pushing the attributes of cauliflower and arguing that the eraser was invented for a reason, I don’t want to harangue my son about his glasses.

I needed a carrot and stick. Reward and punishment. But what kind?

Punching.

Yes, my son loves kicking, punching, poking, whacking and tearing at things. I’m guessing it’s a boy thing. But I’m a modern Mom. I’m here to manipulate my kids without them knowing it, into doing what I want them to do, all the while they’re thinking they’re doing it because they’re motivated.

Here’s the deal I struck:

  • If my son remembers to put on his glasses without any reminding, he gets to punch me (or my husband) in the arm

  • If I have to remind him, I get to punch him in the arm.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. How hard can he punch?

Oh, don’t worry. I’m not training the next generation of abusers. I’m as staunch a feminist as you’ll find on the westside of LA. My son created the rule that he couldn’t punch me hard because I’m “… a girl and Dad says we have to treat girls like flowers.” Like all good feminists, I like a box of chocolates from time-to-time.

Guess what ladies? It’s working! The thrill my son gets from doing the forbidden has gotten him to wear his glasses nearly 90% of the time, without any parental prompting or jaw-jamming. And we’re only 3-days in to our deal.

Now, if only I could figure out how to get Congress to sit down and balance the damn budget.

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