One of the parental-type things that concerns me most is that Boy Wonder and Miss M don’t always get along. That's a bit of an understatement. In fact, a lot of my parenting energy is spent breaking up arguments, sending the small people to opposite corners of the room, and soothing hurt feelings. But a child psychologist once told me research indicates that even if your children get along only 10% of the time, they can still have a normal adult relationship. (Yeah, right. Living on opposite sides of the continent.)
At any rate, when I see the 500Jerk kids enjoying each other, I’m quick to notice and heap on the praise. a very obvious tactic that led to this conversation with sweets-obsessed nine year-old Miss M last night:
500Jerk: So you and Boy Wonder have been getting along better.
Miss M (disinterested, examining nails): Yep. Kinda.
500Jerk (pressing): Why is that, you think?
Miss M (sighing): I don’t know.
500Jerk: No, really, I want to know. Are you maybe being nicer to each other?
Miss M (snorts): No.
500Jerk (stumped): Hmph. What is it, then?
Miss M (evil smile): You know what, Mom? I think it’s because we've been having candy. That’s what it is. We definitely, definitely need more candy.
Although I have always thought that trifecta of social power—threats, bribes, and deception—was mine alone to wield in the 500Jerk household, I can see now that my fourth-grader has taken the reins in her own hands.
Lord help us.