I’ve been wondering lately why I have to scare the bejeezus out of my kids to get them to do anything. I have tried every approach in the book, but good old fashioned, pee-in-your-pants fear is the one that gets ‘er done every time.
For those that don’t know me, I have a news flash. I am not scary. I am the anti-scary. My kids are bigger than I am, faster and smarter. So, I have to think like part covert agent and part annoying big brother you wish you never had.
Below is the current list of credible threats in no particular, fear-inducing order
1. Hipster Wannabe Mom Language— The fact that I am the only person on the planet still using “Dude” in every day conversation is cringe-worthy to my kids. A fact that I wear like a big, shiny badge. I constantly search for words that are on the cusp of cool, but just miss the mark. Then, I use them every chance I get. Especially when they are trapped with me in the car with their friends. They can’t escape my voice unless they are going to catapult themselves out onto the highway. My hipster language is like a loaded gun. I only pull it out in retribution or self-defense. One word (bullet) is usually all it takes to hit my mark. #imthesheriff
2. Giving up the phone—Teenagers would gnaw off an arm before losing the phone as punishment. That kind of power is intoxicating. Apparently, even one hour without liking and commenting on Instagram and Vine forever bans kids from the inner circle. Leaving them with nothing to contribute to the lunch conversation. Don’t even suggest tv or the iPad. Just. So. Yesterday.
3. Robbers—Ok, I am scared of robbers/thieves/thugs/bad guys too. But I act like Wonder Woman so no one knows. My kids do know, however, that they are not crafty like the Home Alone kid, making the chances of foiling a would-be robber hover between -10 and zilch. So, when I find the front door wide open for the 1000th time in a week, I do not freak-the-freak-out. Instead, I furrow my brow with worry and start slowly reciting crime statistics. I think it is my eerily calm demeanor that is the most unsettling. When I scream and rant, all is right with the world.
4. Tears—I know, I know. Ordinarily, tears are not frightening. But any crying from me scares my boys. Scary like spending the night in a haunted house with the doors nailed shut. In a power outage. Most times, I don’t even have to cry, I can just quiver my chin and tear up a little. WHAM! Total cooperation. And yes, I am copping to setting the woman’s movement back a decade with each tear. Gloria Steinem can’t call me out on this, she had no kids.
5. PDD- Public Displays of Dance—Oh life is never finer than when I can get my groove on in public. If the kids are dawdling in a store, I threaten to bust a move to whatever Muzak is playing. My moves are circa 1984 and happening, people. The boys are literally RUNNING for the exits. It only gets sweeter if I know the words to the song.
6. Telling secrets—Our family, like most, has a mandate that certain topics stay inside the house. Fortunately, one of the inherent rights of being a mom is that I can break this rule any old time I want. So, I threaten to tell the free world an array of horrifying secrets. Graphic details about bodily functions. Embarrassing baby stories. I have a whole stockpile of disclosures dying to get out and they give me new ammo every day.
Are these my proudest parenting moments?
But, not being able to unnerve them into submission would be the most frightening thing of all to me.
Reprinted from the Town Courier Newspapers