Let’s play the brainwashing game!

By Mir
August 31, 2005

I’ve decided that the hallmark of good parenting is the ability to convince your progeny of just about anything, plausible or no. You need to wear the right clothing so that you don’t get sick! There are no monsters in your closet! Some harmless incorporeal freak wants to sneak into your room and give you money in return for your discarded enamel! Etc.

It’s a handy skill to have, this deadpan presentation of anything they “should” believe. Luckily for me, my kids are still pretty gullible. Well, Monkey moreso than Chickadee (he is younger, after all), but on the whole, I’m sure my parents will be very pleased to know that the money they spent on my very useful degree in Theater Arts was WELL SPENT.

It started early this morning. After reviewing the paperwork for Chickadee’s lunch account, I determined that there are only two choices: Full lunch only, or buy whatever you like. There is NO option for “full lunch or just milk only” and usually she will just be buying milk. So I had to authorize her to buy ANYTHING. What would be the best way to insure that she won’t be spending her money on chips or other junk?

Chickadee: Whatcha doing, Mama?
Me: Writing a check for your lunch account.
Chickadee: Oh. Am I buying lunch today?
Me: Nope.
Chickadee: Am I buying milk today?
Me: Nope, there’s a juice box in your lunch.
Chickadee: Well what’s it for?
Me: It’s for buying milk on days when I don’t pack juice for you, or for buying your lunch in case I die and you don’t have a lunch packed. Also they will be implanting a microchip in your neck that will deliver an electric shock if you use it to buy anything else, at any other time, so don’t.
Me: Also, I packed banana chips for your snack.
Chickadee: Yay! Thanks!

That went well.

Once we put Chickadee on the bus, Monkey and I walked back to the house while he asked me what we could do today that would make today very special, on account of the inherent unfairness of the fact that he doesn’t start school til next week. Well, that was easy! Hey! How about we lie down on the couch! Because it is very early! And watch some cartoons! I will watch right through my eyelids! And it will be exciting!

He was skeptical. I had to sweeten the deal with mini cinnamon-swirl bagels, and let him sit on my stomach, but eventually I was able to doze off for a bit. (And I woke up with washboard abs!)

For some reason, that wasn’t quite thrilling enough to fill the entire day. So I had to move on to The Next Wonderful Activity. Hey! You know what would be REALLY REALLY REALLY fun? Oh, really, it may be TOO MUCH FUN for you, probably we’d better not. You probably don’t even know how to whitewash a fence, little boy.

Wait. No. Wrong story.

But WOW I bet you can’t come up to my room with me where every piece of clothing any of the three of us have worn in the past, oh, month now resides in one of four overstuffed laundry basket, clean but unfolded and unsorted, and… PAIR SOCKS. That’s really a task for a bigger kid, so maybe we should skip it….

“Oh MAMA!” my baby declared with shining eyes, “I have pretty good skills!” (Ummm… okay!) “And I bet I will be a speedy sock pairer!” Well, alright, we can give it a try I suppose….

So, um, my five-year-old now believes that spending a couple hours sorting and folding laundry is a huge treat. Truly I have never witnessed such eagerness to stack underwear. It was touching. And when he mentioned that perhaps he deserved a little reward for being such a good helper, I was quick to concur. And I thought the prize should fit the task.

I rummaged around in Monkey’s closet until I found the two packages of new socks and the new pair of sneakers I’d put away for school. I brought them out for his inspection and his joy was palpable. “Maybe I’d better try them on,” he suggested. I agreed, and placed a sneaker in front of him. “I need to try the SOCKS on first, silly.” Oh, my mistake. He tried on socks, then the new shoes, and then ran around to show me that they fit just fine. “I’m lookin’ pretty good!” he called over his shoulder. I told him it was because he was such a good worker.

Chickadee came home and told us–her sole reporting on her first day of school–that instead of Simon Says, they played Mr. Wonderful Says. Monkey said, “Yeah? Well I got NEW SOCKS.” To which Chickie replied, “Yeah? Well I get to buy stuff in the cafeteria with my little card! Maybe!”

It’s good to be the Queen.


  1. buffi

    You are my hero! Now, send the little guy to Ohio to help me plow thru the six laundry baskets in my guest room. Perhaps he can train my boys in the finer points of sock pairing and underwear stacking.

  2. Jay Allen

    You’re cruel. No wonder you’re so good at this parenting thing.

  3. KimberlyDi

    I remember the days when I had my son convinced that you couldn’t buy an item at the grocery store unless you had a coupon for it. “Mommy, can I have those donuts?” “Sorry son, I would love to buy them but I don’t have a coupon.”

  4. Heather

    I am laughing so hard I choked on my iced tea! I used to have a home daycare, and your story reminded me of all the times we played “beat the song” wherein you have to pick up all the toys before the music stops. I also had a feather duster and a pair of bunny ears (left over from Easter) and happy was the child who got his or her turn to be the “Dust Bunny” and wear the ears while they dusted the nick nacks. Now my kids are 10 and 12, I can’t get away with anything. Ah, those were the days…

  5. Cindy

    When I was in kindergarten, I remember hating nap time until the teacher told me that I was very close to earning the “best rester” award. (The award was just the title of Best Rester.) From that day forward, I was the first one down for a nap and the last one up. Was that teacher good or what?

  6. Fraulein N

    You know what’s sad? When they stop believing any old thing you tell them.

  7. Amy-GO

    Already my seven-year-old questions whether I really “know everything.” Which, of course, I DO. *grin*

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest