Last summer when Michael and I almost sold our kids within 1 hour of arriving on vacation, I started this bonus points “system” so the kids can start “earning” the %$#& they expect to get anyway. That vacation they had their eyes on a green lantern pez dispenser. Aim high kids!
How can they earn bonus points? Generally making mommy’s life just a little bit easier for a minute or 2 is a good bet. Specifically: getting shoes on no reminders no whining, getting ready for bath no reminders no whining, getting pajamas on no reminders no whining, brushing teeth no reminders no whining…You get the idea. But more often I’m giving out points for NOT doing things:
- NOT hitting your brother when it looked like you were about to.
- NOT falling on the floor screaming “I don’t have to go!!!” when I tell you you need to go potty before we leave the house. (I actually think that’s only happened once in 6 months since my 3 year old has no concept of going BEFORE you have to go. He just comes careening into the bathroom at the very moment and often pee is streaming out of him as he’s pulling down his pants. Or last week when I asked him 14 times if he had to go before taekwondo and he was a firm “no.” Then he peed in his uniform. Another post entirely.)
- NOT complaining when I shut the TV off after 3 straight Peppa Pig episodes, eyes glazed over, and chicken nuggets (yes, often, and no I don’t want to reveal how many times/week this is their “meal” and in front of the tv) half falling out of their mouth, and no chewing going on whatsoever.
What’s the point of a point? Save up a bunch of bonus points to cash in for a new lego set or other can’t-live-without-toy, of course. However, there’s no real tally, and we’ve never gotten close to banking enough points to cash in for anything decent. Beautiful “system” and no, the boys haven’t figured it out.
Tonight something spectacular happened. J started taking out all his tiny angry birds (second worst clean up next to mini legos), and I told him he needed to clean up the toys he was playing with before he started with new toys. Novel concept. What happened next left me slack-jawed. He actually cleaned them up. I mean right away. I couldn’t believe it. No whining. NO 47 reminders. No falling all over the floor complaining he doesn’t know how and it’s too hard and it’s not fair because B isn’t helping.
Me screaming with joy: “J! YOU EARN A BONUS POINT! MICHAEL, B!!!! DID YOU SEE WHAT J JUST DID?!?!? HE CLEANED UP RIGHT AWAY WITH NO WHINING AND NO REMINDERS!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?”
Michael and B are deeply engrossed in football.
B: Silence. Doesn’t look up. Doesn’t care.
Michael, calmly: “Good job J.” Doesn’t break his gaze from the TV.
I continue. “J!!! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! J, DO YOU SEE MOMMY’S FACE? [J looks up to see a very exaggerated, ear-to-ear smile on my face]. BONUS POINT!”
This is how I get my kicks. Yes, I used to have an actual life.
I go into the bathroom while the boys are getting in the bath, and I see Michael up on a stool not only changing the lightbulb (no reminders, no whining), but also using cleaning spray all around the light fixture that is packed with dirt and dust. I’m stunned. He has identified the need for a new lightbulb AND cleaning spray all on his own.
I announce, “Daddy earns extra football minutes with no one talking to him!”
B: “Daddy, did you hear that? Mommy said you earned extra football!”
(Did I mention you can earn bonus minutes in addition to bonus points? No, the “system” doesn’t generally apply to Michael. A necessary exception in this case.)
I return to the bathroom to tell Michael he’s getting a mention in my next post for changing the lightbulb and cleaning the fixture. He’s sitting on the closed toilet checking his phone, face down while the boys figure out how to blast the jets on the tub and flood the floor. “Do you have things under control in here? Someone’s going to stick their finger in the jets and get a bloody finger and that’s really going to piss me off.” Goodbye football minutes.
J comes crawling out of the tub pretending to hide under the towel and soaking the floors. “J, do you want another bonus minute? Go get your pajamas on.” J is now running circles around the apartment wet and naked, wearing only a random sunhat he found who knows where. “J! PAAAAJAMAS! 1…2…JJJJJJJJJ! IF I GET TO 3!!!”
How’s the “system” working? Re-read.