Here’s a tip for all you would-be parents out there. Bribery. It is the answer to all that parentally ails you.
We were about to encounter one of those off-kilter days that does not follow the general routine. Instead of Dad doing the preschool drop-off, it was all Mom. Well, you remember how that went a la trail of tears and handwashing.
I told the girls I would take them to a restaurant if they were nice all day.
And they were. Because bribery works.
I took them to a restaurant or the closest thing to a restaurant in which hysterical crying does not detract too much from the ambiance. Or, in other words, Burger King.
Everything went fine (read: me on the floor mopping up a murder of ketchup) and we brought home a kids’ meal toy consisting of:
The board game. Only in a tiny box.
Erma was super duper trooper excited. She held onto the game the entire way home. She studied the box. She talked to the box. She showed her sister the box from afar. She petted the box and cooed at it.
At home, the inevitable happened and she wanted to open the box.
We took out the pieces. Plastic boards, cardboard people, and the tiniest deck of cards you’ve ever seen. They are like bite-sized candy cards (says Sigourney, and so yummy!).
Erma and I played Guess Who!, in the way that a three-year-old plays a board game. It was thankfully a much shorter game than the treacherous Chutes and Ladders.
“Do you want to play one more time?” I asked, in a giving spirit.
“Where’s the people?” she asked, her bottom lip just at the beginning of a pout.
“They’re right here.” These types of questions confuse my feeble mind. Had we not just played the game with all the little people? You asked if my person had a happy face and orange hair. Remember the little bite-sized people?
“No. Not those people.” Behind the pout was just the edges of anger. I could feel it brimming.
“The people who jump out at you.”
I looked at her for a minute, because surely if I questioned this, the frustration was going to boil right over. I could see it in her eyes. But finally I said, “There are no people who jump out.”
“No! I want the people who jump out!”
“Where are people jumping out?”
Ah. I explained to her that it was just a picture, and that the people don’t really jump out. Then I made a parental error. I told her that in the REAL game (not the fake Burger King bite-sized game), the people do kind of pop out. WHY did I say this? I don’t know. The mother side of my head was on the verge of exploding in trying to divert the frustration of my preschooler, and I took a misstep.
“I want the REAL game,” she said, “where the people jump out. Can I have the real game? Pleaaase? PLEAAAASE? PLEASE, Mommy?”
For the next 48 hours, all we have heard about is how much she wants the game with the real people popping out.
I’m tempted to hide in a box and jump out at her. Then I will tell her that this is the REAL game, and I have just made the people jump out. Then I could give her the box. Problem solved, right?