Here’s something about parenthood I didn’t bargain on: the complex barter system that is life with a two-year-old. Or my life with my two-year-old anyway. Probably I’m doing something wrong, which would explain why day-to-day life around here involves more bribes than Tammany Hall – hey-oh!
No but really.
Here’s a sampling.
Using the potty nets a sticker. Actually, a Rock Star Games sticker from Daddy’s work. Adult Harper will see this logo and not understand why it makes her have to pee. Oh, and using the potty a lot gets you the opportunity to wear underwear. Elmo underwear. Oh yes. We went there.
Staying in bed (or at least in your room) until 6 am also gets you a sticker, but a different kind, and on a chart. This one was probably our most successful system to date, by which I mean it quickly rendered itself obsolete — the actual chart was only in play for about a week. Now she checks the clock against the little sign I made one desperate morning – 5 means STAY, 6 means PLAY – and starts patting my cheek at exactly 6:00. This is a luxurious delight. I am serious.
A good nap will earn you a refreshing glass of pink milk upon waking. This one doesn’t work worth a shit, by the way. We are tutu-deep in a week of no napping. Going to daycare at the gym without a fuss equals one coveted squeezy-fruit-thingy. (They cost like thirty dollars each.)
Then there are the heat-of-the-moment threats/bribes/cajoles (“Get in the stroller or I’m taking away Special Baby Doll/Get in the stroller and you can do the straps yourself/Big girls get in the stroller”). These start flying fast and furious towards the end of the day, when everything is a negotiation. What, do I think Harper should eat dinner, take a bath, brush her teeth, let me brush her hair, and go to bed without a major debate-team-style match at each step? Where’s the challenge in that?
And don’t even get me started on the coached trading and turn-taking of playdates these days. “I’m setting the timer. You get the dolly stroller for 2 minutes, and then it’s Malka’s turn. In the meantime, you can push the shopping cart. Then you’ll trade.” (The other day a mom-friend and I agreed to let the kiddos sort out a situation with a coveted plaything themselves. This ended in both children holding one end of the truck and shrieking at the top of their lungs in each others’ faces. Very becoming.)
I don’t know. I feel like such an idiot sometimes with all the bribing and so on, but I feel even more idiotic saying things like, “Maybe you should behave because I’m asking you too and not because you’ll get a lollipop out of it.” I mean, what goddamn sense does that make?