The Child Whisperer
My husband suggested in his blog yesterday that I might be a source of child-wrangling tips. This is patently false. I cannot wrangle children – not my own, not anyone else’s. My kids listen to me on occasion, but they know what a pushover I am.
“No, you may not have candy before dinner.”
“OK, but just ONE PIECE.”
“OK, fine, you can eat all the peanut butter cups from your Halloween candy, but do not eat the M&Ms, too.”
In college, I worked one job as an usher at the university stadium and another at the university bookstore.
One of my duties as an usher was supposed to be security, and I was laughably bad at this. I mean, I was pretty decent at waving my arms around and saying, “Please do not exit on this level. Please move along and go up the stairs and exit at the top level.”
But I worked a Widespread Panic concert there on Halloween night (in 1999, I think), and after a few halfhearted attempts to remind the concert-goers that this was a nonsmoking venue (“Hey, y’all? Guys? Hello? I’m pretty sure you can’t smoke weed in here, sorry! Hey, guys, can you hear me? I think you need to put that out now.”), I just gave up and stood in a giant cloud of marijuana smoke while kids passed a bong around. What was I supposed to do?
Then there was my very brief turn doing security at the bookstore. I tried to tell the manager that this was a bad idea. I tried to tell her that I would be much more comfortable working a register or stocking shelves.
Instead, I stood there while a kid pushed a full cart of merchandise through the anti-theft sensors, which immediately started blaring.
“Hey!” I said. “Hey! Come back! I … um … hey! You have to pay for that! Hello? Hey! You! Come back! Please come back now and pay for that!”
He did not choose to come back. I was promptly taken off of security and put on a register job, which I excelled at, thankyouverymuch. Being conflict-avoidant makes me very good at customer service but absolutely crap at security.
All of which is a long way of saying: No discipline tips here, folks.
I will, however, gladly offer advice on the following:
- Comma usage
- Mnemonics to help distinguish commonly confused words
- Baked goods, up to and including pastry dough
- Head lice eradication
- High-risk pregnancy
- Ways to use 1,000 Post-It notes and still be completely disorganized
- Food you can make that your kids will refuse to eat (this includes everything made in a Crock-Pot except for chicken chili)
- How to make a kickass chicken chili in the Crock-Pot that your kids love but your fancy food writer husband will not eat
- How to buy cute yet inexpensive monogrammed children’s clothing, preferably in seersucker
- Several different ways you can bite your cuticles/fingers/fingernails to make them bleed profusely, typically right in the middle of a high-stakes meeting with people you’d like to impress
- How to not take over your kid’s science project on the water cycle even though OMG it would look so much better if she would just let me change that font. And maybe make the clouds out of cotton balls. And also we could make the lake out of tin foil colored with a blue marker.
- Algebra. You wouldn’t expect it, probably, but I was inexplicably very good at algebra.
- How to structure your life around obnoxiously pervasive superstitions, many of which include the number 13
- Overzealous kids’ birthday party planning
- The best brand of salt and vinegar potato chips
- How to shatter the screen of your iPhone and not even be able to blame it on your kids
- How to most effectively overanalyze a vaguely worded email or text in order to come to the most dire conclusions about the sender's motivations
That’s it. Those are the things I do well. But child-wrangling? Ha. No. Not even a little bit.
Luckily, they are still pretty awesome in spite of it all.