A little white bribe is a bit like a little white lie in that it is used with purely good intentions. Parents are some of the most accomplished and creative little white bribers around. Little white bribes are generic in their format “if you do x you can have y”. Apparently the top little white bribe in Melbourne is “if you sit quietly and let mummy/daddy drink their coffee I’ll get you a babyccino”.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a master where little white bribes are concerned. I use them liberally and have a comprehensive repertoire. Bribes are offered to Max in return for walking, sleeping, eating, silence and of course letting daddy sit and drink coffee. The reward is usually something biccie shaped and flavoured. As a teacher I was taught never to bribe a child, the reward should be in the achievement of what you’re being asked to do, but I’m not a teacher anymore, I’m a parent, so stuff that.
Yesterday though I overstepped the mark, I went too far and crossed the line of bribe decency. Max is two and a tad years old. He has quite the vocabulary and can generally copy words if you ask him too. The other day we were at a garage sale and amongst a collection of plastic sea creatures was a dugong, he spent the next fortnight dugong’ing his little heart out. So he can talk, boy can he talk.
But there are three little words that seem to have escaped his expanding collection. Three words that he uses in isolation from one another without a problem. Three words that I have been holding out for for quite some time. I Love You. Why is that so hard for you Max? You can wax lyrical about your day at ‘school’, you can explain to me exactly why you don’t need a bath and you regularly tutor me on the finer points of steam train engineering; but “I Love You” just wasn’t quite happening.
I had imagined the moment many times. Perhaps it would be as I tucked you into bed, just after bathing, reading and getting you in your jimmy jams. You’d probably lean in and whisper it gently in my ear. Or perhaps it would be at the park, you might have taken a tumble down the slide but Daddy was there to catch you, kiss the injured area better and dust you down, “I Love You” you’d probably shout at the top of your lungs for all the other parents to hear. I’d probably ruffle your hair and say “that’s my boy” loud enough for all the other parents to hear.
It didn’t happen like that. What actually happened was Max was slumped on the sofa at the end of a busy day with Dad. He had watched one Peppa Pig and as is his custom he began with “more Peppa, more Peppa”, like a junkie after his fix or a parent after their caffeine. I saw the opportunity and I went for it, “Max if you say I Love You Daddy you can watch another Peppa”. And there you have it I bribed my child to tell me he loves me.
It’s your turn now. Where do you stand on a little bit of harmless bribery? Do you have a bribe your particularly proud/ashamed of? How was the big I Love You for you?
Linking up with Girl Friday Grace at With Some Grace