Sunday, March 14, 2010

Parental Bribery and a Lesson in Honesty

Man I love that title! No better way to start off a post than a healthy dose of conflicting values! So to start, let me be honest: There is no excuse for the deplorable laziness in my posting. I could say that in addition to work I'm back in grad school and coaching two competition soccer league teams but that would be an excuse. A good one, but still. I'm just saying. :)

Let's start with the soccer. One night over too much pizza and rootbeer I got talking with Neisha and some friends about how there isn't any soccer for our middle school kids and that that was probably the reason our high school soccer team was lousy. One thing led to another and I found myself along with 3 other dads holding tryouts for the first ever Page competition soccer league. What was I thinking!? To adequately describe my feelings about this realization let me use a comparison. Imagine, if you will, jumping off the golden gate bridge holding an umbrella because you saw someone do it once on youtube and thought "I could totally do that! That's easy!" And then, after leaving the safety of the bridge you have a moment of pure revelation. A moment when the world and the meaning of life is absolutely clear and you say, "I'm not sure this was such a good idea." that about sums up how I feel. The kids are really great though and they have even won a few games in the So. Utah RCL League. Josh is playing on one team and is really loving the game. Everyone still calls him Weasel and he's kind of become a rallying point for the team. Good times.

Now onto jusiness! (pronounced: weezness. Spanish for 'Business' I think). Right now Alex and Marcus the Amazing are cleaning their room in record time and they are laughing and having fun. Impossible you say? Well, not when you use the power of parental bribery! Some of you may not agree with this tactic. If so, you either don't have children or you have only one child or your children don't possess the psychic power of telekinesis in which they can just walk into a room, raise their arms and have everything they own suddenly fly onto the floor all by themselves. My kids have this power. Just ask them.
"Alex, how did your room get like this? It's destroyed! I just cleaned it 5 minutes ago!"
"I don't know mom, all my stuff just got on the floor by itself."
Bingo. Anyway, if you're like me once in a while you just get tired of the pleadings, the demands, the consequences, the threats of 3rd world slavery and you bribe your kids. The bribe? I hid a handful of change in their room throughout the mess and told them so. 10 minutes later, clean room. No fuss, no muss. Currently Marcus is "fsssshh"-ing around the house in his batman costume. He also ran up to me and looked me in the eye and yelled, "BURN!" Either he is referring to Superman's ability to melt things with lazer eyes or else he's practicing his power of pyrokinesis (see above). I think my forehead feels warm.

One last mentionable. We always do our best to teach the kids honesty in everything they do and the other night my 8 year old Alex took a huge step toward becoming a man. Now I don't share this so that anyone will think us great parents because we make all the same mistakes as anyone else. I share this because someday Alex will read it and I want him to remember how proud I am of him. We have a rule that if someone hurts you and you get really angry about it and retaliate out of anger that you spend the rest of your day in your room. Kind of harsh but an important lesson to learn given the lack of adults who can actually do this. Anyway, I'm in the kitchen when I hear Alex yell "Ow Marcus!" and then a moment later hear Marcus begin wailing. Alex came out to the kitchen and here is the conversation as close as I can remember it:
Alex: "Marcus pulled my hair"
Dad: "I'm sorry. I'll bet that hurt. Is that why Marcus is crying?"
"I kind of freaked out."
"What did you do?"
"I picked him up and threw him on the bed."
"Was Marcus angry when he pulled your hair?"
"Were you angry when you threw him down?"
- Now here was the critical moment. He knows the consequence for retaliation in anger. He could lie and say that he was just wrestling and I would have believed him. He hates to be stuck in his room. I watched his little shoulders slump and he started to cry a little bit and then finally, in a barely audible voice he said, "yeah I guess so."

It was my turn to cry then. I couldn't help it. He chose to be honest when choosing it was most difficult. It was enough for me. I got down next to him looked him in the eye and said, "Alex you know the consequence for this don't you?" He nodded, crying. "Well, you were honest anyway. You could have lied but you didn't. You did what needed to be done and that is what it means to be a man. I think we're square on this one." After he left I sat by myself for a while awestruck at how much I still have to learn from my kids.

Well that's all the news that's fit to print so until next time remember that life only comes around once. Make the most of it.

Love, The Johnsons

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