When my kids are at their worst, it’s hard to take the high road. But I do my job, doling out punishments like a lunch lady serving stale bread. Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t seem to get the point across. A teensy part of me would like to say what I’m really thinking, like “I told you so” or “Duh.” Sometimes I just want to tell my kids how their silly fears are driving me nuts, to just put some stupid clothes on already—any clothes—to end the tears, or that I’m going to throw all of their toys away if they can’t clean them up. Would I be a bad mother if I told my kids that burping at the table causes warts on their tongue? Wouldn’t that put an end to naughty behavior, make my kids finally listen? What if I read them books about it instead?
Bedtime books I wish I could read to my kids:
• A boy who always pulls the shower curtain back before he’ll use the bathroom one day really does find a bad guy hiding there.
• The girl who throws a fit over what to wear is sentenced to a month of wearing her brother’s stinky socks and underwear that he has worn for an entire week. Pee-ew!
• The child who never sleeps is given chores to do all night while the rest of his family snoozes soundly in their beds. Even when he finally tries to lie down, he finds he can no longer sleep. His hands turn to sponges and his feet into mops.
• The kid who picks his nose all the time gets his finger stuck in his nostril. His mom has to sew special clothes for him. He can’t play baseball. And he always fears he will get his other finger stuck. Yes, little Timmy cannot learn his lesson.
• The girl who throws fits suddenly starts talking in that high-pitched squeal all the time and can no longer walk but only stomp and thrash her fists. The only thing that will cure it is a thick, bubbling, stinking concoction of frog’s guts and squid tentacles taken in huge gulps.
• Kids who don’t clean their rooms wake up tied down and taken hostage by their own toys. Barbies build Lego racks to torture their owners. Minifigure armies pull and twist hair. Robots shoot Nerf darts at the kids’ noses. Dolls scribble on walls and the kids will be blamed.
• Kids who talk back to their parents are rewarded with pet birds that never shut up and whisper creepy things that no one else can hear, like, “Don’t go to sleep, Mildred.”
Think it will work?