1. Bribe them with candy. Specifically, suckers. They are long lasting and don’t lose their flavor, even a little Dum-Dum. That right there will buy you at least an extra five minutes, if they keep sucking and not crunching them.
Another good one is a Starburst. They are chewy and take longer to eat than, say, a few M&M’s. And we can’t discount the extra few minutes required to pick the remaining pieces out of their teeth.
But let me warn you, stay away from Now & Later candy. Those puppies are so hard and sticky that you may end up taking a trip to the dentist. Not fun, especially when all you want is to get the hell out of the waiting room you’re in. After giving your kids that much candy, the dentist’s office is the last place you want to be. You’ll get reamed, grounded, and probably get your phone privileges taken away.
2. Promise to buy them a toy. Specifically, from the dollar section at Target. Yes, I have no shame in spending a dollar or two if doing so means my children behave in public. But I make them feel like I’m making a special trip just for them. “I will take you to Target and you can buy anything you want from that really cool aisle you like.” They don’t need to know that I need to pick up tampons and a birthday card. No, this shopping spree is a reward for their almost-full, public meltdown that was kept to half a meltdown.
That definitely deserves compensation.
3. Offer to take them to Starbucks. Ok, I know what you’re thinking. What? Starbucks? But YES! Where I go, the rug rats follow. So when I’m ordering my white mocha, they want their chocolate milk. Sometimes they get it; sometimes they don’t. It depends on how much money I’ve got on my Starbucks card. You don’t think I’d buy them a $2.00 milk without getting credit for that, do you?
But now I’ve created these monsters that will approach me in the morning and say, “Mom, I want Starbucks.” My general response is, “I thought you’d never ask.” So when the crying fit begins, and mom wants a Starbucks too, I throw out, “If you behave, mommy will take you to Starbucks after this.”
And if they stop crying, it’s kind of amazing.
4. Pass them the cash. Look, I’m going to be honest here. I can be a push over. (Is it obvious yet?) Well, in the event that I’m desperate enough, I’ll offer cold hard cash.
I can still get away with quarters with my two year old, but that’s not quite cutting it with the six year old any longer. He’s hungry for large bills and still thinks they grow on trees. He’s notorious for publicly suggesting, “Just swipe your card, mom,” whenever I say no to anything that has monetary value. So when I’m in a real bind — for example, I run into that snooty mom from the PTA and the behavior of my oldest is comparable to me on my worst day of PMS — we cut straight to the cash.
Sometimes you’ve got to save face.
It works, and I don’t regret it.
5. Throw them the car keys. Please tell me I’m not the only mother who has a toddler who loves, and I mean loves, to push buttons, preferably ones that create a reaction. The remote control works pretty well at home as long as I don’t mind not being able to work the TV for the remainder of the day. But when I’m out somewhere like the grocery store and the only place he wants to be is walking down the aisles ripping everything from the shelves, I make do.
Into the purse I go, and if I’ve found the garage door opener, we’re golden. I hand it over and I hear the shriek, “BUTTON!” That’s the sound of success. He goes to town pushing that button, and I have the millisecond, moronic thought of, I really hope my garage door isn’t opening and closing right now. But if I fail to find the garage door opener, I must resort to my car keys. And with my child, I’ll likely hear the alarm go off about 30 seconds after he gains possession. My panic in that case is that he will unlock the car from aisle 5, and the cracked-out man on the bicycle that just rolled up on me in the parking lot will be rummaging through my car. He’ll have to decide between stealing the diaper bag, or the bag with the most recent poopy diaper tied off in the back seat.
But I am willing to take that risk.
I’ve got insurance.
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