August 29, 2008

Chubby Bunny

When I asked a friend how he got his twin boys to not view Level 1 readers as medieval torture devices, his answer was simple: "A five pound bag of Mike & Ike candy."
"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.


Anonymous said...

wow, you are soooo much nicer than me when it comes to bribes - I did it for potty training, but when it came to reading and piano lessons, the kids all get the "do it or die" look and lecture and there is no quarter given. We had royal battles, crying, tantrums, drama, for about a week, then they settled into the reality of their life that mom is a dictator and tyrant and Dad supports her in this endeavor and their life is much more peaceful when they do what I say with regards to homework and chores.

I have never tried it with triplets though. Candy may be your best option.

Anonymous said...

Bribery is the best policy. This summer I told my two daughters that if they practiced the piano/violin every day (except Sunday or any day excused by me) I would get them a prize. They practiced religously and even cheerfully all summer. I hardly even had to remind them. We marked off each day on the calendar. Daughter #1 got a pair of earrings (got her ears pierced a few months ago). They were cheap and she was thrilled. Daughter #2 wanted a key chain for her collection. A KEY CHAIN for crying out loud!!! "I'm a freakin genius!" was all I could think while buying the $1.50 key chain. It was the best money I'd ever spent!!

Anonymous said...

I like to use the word "incentive" as I hand the candy out to the kids.

Unknown said...

Brilliant idea! Then by the time they've finished the bag of sweets they'll be so high on E numbers they will forget the 'trauma' of learning and learn to love it! I like your style!

Anonymous said...

Oh triplets ALWAYS chose the serious problem. I hate that, because then I have to invent a serious problem that won't get me arrested.

Matt and Stephanie said...

First of all, congratulations on surviving a trip to wal-mart with your children. I felt the same way for potty training-- I was about ready to offer the kid a freakin' car if he would JUST Pleeeeeease poop on the potty. I seriously offered to buy him a bicycle as a potty prize, and he actually said, "no thanks. I just want to poop in my diaper." (curses!) Anyway, thanks for the laugh.

p.s. yes, it is the middle of the night. couldn't sleep; must have first day of kindergarten anxiety.

Jana said...

So far so good with the reading bribes. On the first day, I put the bags of candy on top of the refrigerator. On the second day, my boys used a broom handle to "swipe" the bags onto the ground. On the third and fourth days, the boys had to read without treats. This is the fifth, and probably last day of this social experiment.