tripping the life unbalanced

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

parenting over the phone lines

There's been much discussion in my house lately about privileges. The privilege to have candy after daycare if you don't scream at me at bedtime, the privilege to watch The Backyardigans if you don't jump on the couch after I told you a million bloody times to cut that out, and even the privilege to have playdates if you don't spit at me on the way home from daycare. For the most part, Alice excels at reward challenges: she likes to work towards a goal that could end positively for her (and provide her with multitudes of Polly Pocket gummy bears. Jesus lord.) She has become much better since last year's Year of The Shitfits (when we saw some doozy tantrums). But now and again the shitfit will hit the fan and I'll duck for cover.

As always, it warms my heart to know that other bloggers feel my pain and parenting foibles. Marla has been experiencing some tantrums of her own with Josie, and we were recently swapping stories. After a botched attempt the other day to get together with Josie and Marla, Alice was upset when the date was postponed. And like all good parents before me, I used this disappointment as a parenting TOOL. Like I said, we were engaged in heavy discussions about "privileges" with Alice, and I knew that Josie and Marla were also in negotiations about tantrums (i.e: act like that and a privilege will be taken away, my friend!) So when I told Alice the playdate had been cancelled because Josie was having difficulty with her tantrums, I also made sure to let her know that that's what happens when parents are fed up with being yelled at. Alice looked at me solemnly and asked if she could call Josie, and here is what (mostly) was said:

A: Hi Jothie
J: Hi Awice
A: We need to be good tomorrow, okay Jothie? We need not to shout and scream and yell at our mommies 'cause I wanna see you tomorrow and I have stickers and I actually want to play with you actually.
J: Otay, Awice. I come to your house tomorrwoah and not be bad tomorrwoah.
A: that's good 'cause I want you to come to my house for a playdate like my mommy said today but then we couldn't do it and now we need to wait until tomorrow actually in one day
J: Yes Awice. I won't yell no more and be good and see you tomorrwoah.
A: (big pause)
J: (bigger pause). The only sound is that of mommies giggling in the back ground
A: (prompted). Bye!
J: (also prompted) 'Bye Awice.

Score one for the mommies. It worked! Dear god it worked. I made sure to milk that conversation for as long as I could that night. "You do want to see Josie tomorrow, right? So you probably want to make sure to go right to bed and NOT dress the cat up in a Princess dress under the covers, right? I hope Josie is listening to her mommy too." I'm not sure if the same went on at Marla's that night, but I can definitely say that the dual reward challenge worked wonders for me.

This is good news, because I'm started to run out of other rewards (she's onto my "no dessert until you finished dinner" scam. She was onto it the night she caught me with a cake pan in my hand, half-eaten. "you didn't eat your dinner, Mommy!") The thought of losing out on a potential playdate was too much for her to bear, and there was excellent behavior to be had the rest of the night. Which is kind of funny, because while Josie and Alice do seem to enjoy spending time together, they have mostly had their friendship thrust upon them and egged on by their mommies. We have convinced them that a missed playdate is the absolute worst thing imaginable, when really it is just so much more convenient for us if they can play nicely while we get drunk in the corner.



  • The big eyes and disbelief that she was actually (one of her taaayvourite words too) having her first phone call, other than one with a Grandma, and it was about getting in shit? Priceless.

    By Blogger Marla, at 12:22 a.m.  

  • That was brilliant. Just brilliant. Hope you enjoy your playdate....

    By Anonymous Chichimama, at 6:27 a.m.  

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