From time to time, as the mood (and memory) strikes me, I thought I'd share some parenting tips of things that worked for me over the years, mostly to correct my own deficiencies.
One of those deficiencies is my memory. At 67, I'm not afraid Alzheimer's is setting in when I forget something vital, because I've always been that way. I remember, when I was 26 and teaching 5th grade, I sent one of my students to the office on an errand, promptly forgot I had sent him, loaded the rest of the students on a bus, and took off on a field trip to the museum. Needless to say, I didn't get voted Teacher of the Year that year.
With that kind of track record, how was I going to teach my children responsibility?
"Mom, can me'n Sam play croquet?"
"Can you remember to put it away this time? Remember how last time you played you forgot, and the home teachers tripped over a wicket in the dark?"
"Yeah, I didn't know you knew how to make a butterfly bandage out of a band-aid. That was pretty cool."
"Don't change the subject. Do you promise to put the croquet set away when you're finished using it?"
"Yeah, mom. I promise."
"Okay. Put your pillow on my bed."
After the child puts his pillow on my bed, he can play croquet. When he goes to bed (earlier than Mom), he'll know by lack of pillow that he needs to put away the game. If he chooses to sleep without a pillow instead, I will know that when I retire and will roust him out of a warm bed to go out in his jammies in the dark and put away the croquet set. It usually only happens once, and he has learned that Mom will follow through...if she can remember.
This little trick relieved a lot of stress in our house, and even now, when our cusp-of-middle-age daughter comes to borrow a tool from her dad's shop, she'll ask, "Should I bring you my pillow?"
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