I am not totally proud of this, but also not un-proud.
In our busy lives there are Things That Need To Get Done NOW And If Anyone Dawdles For One Second The Entire Ponzi Scheme That Is Our Schedule Is Going To Collapse And Crush Us All.
And in the spirit of sticking, even roughly, to any kind of schedule, I will seriously go from “please brush your teeth” to DEFCON ONE in under twenty seconds.
Me: “Please brush your teeth.”
Me: “PLEASE BRUSH YOUR TEETH.”
Me: “That’s fine. Don’t brush your teeth. I’m just letting you know that if you don’t brush your teeth over a certain period of days or weeks that it’s going to be really painful when the dentist puts needles in your face and has to take out all your teeth because they’re so riddled with cavities.”
Them: “Would that hurt?”
Me: “It would be agonizing.”
Them: “Would there be blood?”
Cue: two worried looking children obediently brushing their teeth.
I don’t know how we got here, really. There was just a certain point at which we unconsciously realized that gentle reasoning wasn’t really getting the job done, and anyway, definitely not in a timely manner. We just don’t have time to mince words right now, and also, if I do say so myself, we also have a bit of a flair for the dramatic.
We’re like The Brothers Grimm of weekday morning routines.
I don’t have time to gently explain why it’s unpleasant for my children to pick their noses in public, and I find it insufficient to simply say that it’s impolite.
I prefer something like this:
Me: “Pick your nose in public if you must, just know that no one will want to talk to you or come near you if you do. That’s a great way to end up lonely and sad.”
I don’t know. Is it cruel to take your children down to worst-case-scenario land so quickly, and without warning? I mean, it’s not like these things aren’t true.
Though for the record I will occasionally lie. You know, if it seems worth it. And yes, (insert teenage eyeroll) I have pledged many times publicly and otherwise to always be truthful to my children, but you have to realize, that in itself was blatantly untrue. I am a liar of epic proportions when I don’t have the time or energy to argue (read: every day and always).
Them: “I don’t want any breakfast.”
Me: “It’s important to eat a healthy breakfast so that you can have energy for the day.”
Them: “I don’t like breakfast.”
Me: “Your teachers emailed me and told me to tell you to eat a whole wheat bagel today because you’re doing something really fun and they don’t want to you pass out from hunger and do a face plant at circle time.”
Cue: two worried looking children obediently munching on a whole wheat bagel.
Lie number two. I DO remember where it started, and it started with a hammer.
My son is obsessed with tools of any kind, and one day he casually asked what would happen if he hit his penis with a hammer. I tried to answer his question delicately, and with the proper kind of granola-mom reverence reserved for honest/open talk about our genital-parts, but after the forty-eleven-millionth time he asked the same question, I finally answered it to his satisfaction.
Me: “Your penis would die. It would hurt and bleed, and eventually dry up and fall off forever and you would never grow another penis to replace it.”
It worked so well, I think that was my gateway.
I can’t help but wonder, though, how these warnings will be remembered by my children. We all like to laugh at those old timey canards like “if you sit too close to the TV your eyes will go square!”, but what will be our modern day equivalent?
“There will be blood?”
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