"So you give your sons a piece of candy after reading each book?" I asked.
"Try every page," he said.
After doing some quick math, and adjusting the results to fit my kids' personalities and attention spans, I figured that if this plan was going to work, I would need at least 20 pounds of Mike & Ike candy.
On the way to the store to purchase said candy, I came up with the great idea of letting each of my children pick out their own treats. When we reached the candy aisle, Camber went straight for the jumbo Hershey bars.
"Smaller," I said.
She held up a bag of orange peanut-shaped candy.
"Something a little less gross, please."
Camber quickly settled on a bag of Starburst, while Cortlen chose a large bag of Skittles. Kellen, however, had a more difficult time deciding what kind of candy he would get to pop into his mouth each time he sounded out a monosyllabic word.
I tried to move things along by validating each of his selections.
"M&M's are a very good choice." "Oh yes, Smarties are good too."
Unfortunately, all of my positive reinforcement was being undermined by the two critics hanging out in the shopping cart.
"Eeew!" barked Camber, holding her nose, "M&M's are disgusting!"
"Don't get Smarties," warned Cortlen, "They are hard to bite."
"Ignore them," I told Kellen, pushing the shopping cart down the aisle with my foot.
"What do YOU want?" I asked.
"That's a wonderful idea," I responded, leading Kellen around the corner to the baking aisle. I tried to forget about the contents of the shopping cart in the next aisle over, but the loud screams emanating from it ("AHHHH! She's going to leave us in Wal-Mart forever and ever!") made that impossible.
Next to the bags of regular miniature marshmallows was an unexpected prize: a bag of multi-colored mini-marshmallows. The moment that Camber and Cortlen laid eyes on the fruit-flavored nasties, their own selections became downright repulsive.
"I want one of those," said Cortlen, pointing at the bag of marshmallows with one hand and tossing his bag of Skittles on the nearest shelf with the other.
Sadly, there was only bag of colored marshmallows left. And Kellen had it in his hands.
"Too bad!" I said, tossing the bag of Skittles back into Cortlen's lap. "Take it or leave it."
Camber and Cortlen looked at their brother, who by now was gripping the marshmallows to his chest. Fear was rising in his face.
"If you touch his marshmallows," I told Camber and Cortlen, "You are going to have a serious problem."
I am sad to report that they both chose to have a serious problem.