Bribes and Imaginary Reward Charts

I really feel like I’ve really been effing with my kids’ heads this week. Not only has it been a rough, long week filled with dragging their poor asses all over the universe and into all kinds of heavy emotional scenes, but I’ve also thrown in some head games, even if by accident. 
Well, kinda.
I mean, how long do you think it’s cool to dangle a carrot in front of your kids? And just when they get close enough to touch it, you yank it away again out of reach?  Well, that’s what I was doing this past week out of pure survival.  
How else would I have maneuvered CR and The Love Fairy through 14 hours of driving across the desert, a 7-hour viewing of a dead body, a 2-hour Latin Mass (really), a 1-hour graveside service, three ridiculously late nights at various relatives’ homes, and I think about 232 times in and out of cars, buses, vans, and their carseats?
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.  
I did whatever I could to keep the screaming and whining and fighting and complaining to a bare minimum.  And I’m not sure I succeeded with that bare minimum part because I almost throttled them about 92 times this past week.
And in between the many close calls with the physical pain I wanted to inflict, I baited them with visions of grandeur.
“If only you will (insert whatever you can imagine – i.e. help mommy clean up that mess, stop hitting your sister, be quiet during this eternal Latin Mass, get in the car without complaining, stop drawing on the carpet of the condo we are renting, etc. etc. ETC.), yes, Mommy will buy you that new Littlest Pet Shop chinchilla you’ve been dreaming about.” 
And all week long, (I repeat, All. Week. Long!) I held this bribe over their head. They kept asking “Today mama?  Today, if we are good, today, after the mass, today after the cemetery, today after going to grandma and grandpa’s house, then we will get our LPS’?  
“Yes, my girlies,” I would say, “once you get three checkmarks in the good column, you will get your LPS.”   
And the thing is my good columns?  Well, there kinda imaginary.  You see, I’ve tried the reward chart extravaganza that Supernanny espouses on her reality show, but I am simply not disciplined enough to follow-through.  I’ll draw up a chart and after a few days, that chart is long forgotten.  So I’ve resorted to imaginary reward charts and it suits my style much, much better.
So the girls will do something good?  I’ll yell out, “Great! That’s a checkmark in the good column.”
Then they’ll hit each other two hours later.  “Okay girls, goodbye good checkmark!”
But then they’ll help clean up their toys all over my parents’ house and I’ll hug them and say “Great job! You just got your good checkmark back!”
But in the middle of a tantrum when the concept of listening to mommy is like so impossible, I would yell out “That’s it!  Two checkmarks in the bad column!” 
I know it sounds friggin’ cruel.  It really does as I’m writing this.  I’m sounding like a deranged lunatic…
Well, okay then.
So for days this went on.  The imaginary checkmarks going up in the good column and the bad column and then being erased and then put back and even though I was damn good at math, I still couldn’t compute where we were with getting to that magical number of three good checkmarks.
But in the end, you’ll be happy to know that somewhere along the way, we got there. After the long emotional and physical haul that was this week, three good checkmarks were indeed earned.   
And CR and The Love Fairy are now proud owners of two new LPS creatures, not chinchillas because Target was out of these I guess, but instead a pink spider named “Hearts” and a brown bear named “Chocolate.”  

I’m not sure my insane methods are helping my girls with their concept of math or their understanding of rewarding good behavior or their willingness to listen to their mama, but it sure as hell helped me this week.  
And sometimes isn’t that what counts?
Or am I insane? 
You tell me.

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