Know what this is?
Charlie’s new backpack. Now, I know many of you are thinking, “Those suckers. They got Charlie a backpack for Jean’s birthday.” No. That’s not true. We did not give Charlie a backpack for my birthday. Charlie earned that backpack, he just so happened to do it on my birthday. We had a big event we had to go to on my birthday and it was very important to us that Charlie behave well. We had been talking to him for a couple of days before the event to remind him what to expect and what was expected of him. He sort of seemed to get it, but as we were leaving to go to the event, he started to throw a mini fit saying he didn’t want to go. So, in panic mode, I quickly told him that if he behaved well, he could get that backpack he’s had his eye on at the toy store. Sure enough, he behaved like a prince, and the minute the event was over, he took one look at Mark and said, “I want my backpack.”
So, it turns out that we’re not the kind of parents who buy their child a birthday present when it’s not their birthday. (By the way, my parents were those parents. My sister and I are 2 1/2 years apart in age — to the day — and as children we celebrated half-birthdays. We loved it; in fact, I would still like to celebrate my half-birthday. But, I’m sure my parents used this as a strategy to minimize tantrums from the kid whose birthday it wasn’t.). Anyhow, it turns out that we are the kind of parents who bribe their child to do what they want him to do. And, in case you think the backpack is an isolated incident, I offer a brief story. Last weekend we went to see some friends of Charlie’s. The little girls offered Charlie some chocolate kisses for Valentine’s Day. Charlie stood in the middle of their living room eating his kisses and announced, “This is what I get when I go potty.” That would be toilet-training bribery.
So, all this got me thinking. Which is worse? Giving your child a gift when celebrating another family member’s birthday, or bribing your child to do something you want? Shall we have a little poll?
By the way, birthday presents are covered in our budget, but since there’s no line item for bribery, a backpack and chocolate has to come out of the kitty money.