My son has a "Goal Chart" above his mini-toilet. It's bordered with joyous teddy bears and bright stripes. The horizontal boxes mark his accomplishments, the vertical his goals: I will pee pee in potty. I will poo poo in potty. Every time he performs said duty (pun intended) he gets a sticker. Of course, there are already kinks in my shiny happy motivational tool. Nick only wants to use the "Big toilet, not the tiny toilet". He also can't get the hang of pulling his pants down on his own. He also doesn't tell me when it's time to go. So, every forty five minutes, I have to drag him away from whatever he's doing, pull down his drawers, hoist him up on the big potty, and wait. And of course, I get to listen to him repeat everything I've been telling him over the past month while he does his thing. "I no have to worry. I take my time." And he does... take his time. So I wait. And wait. And then I pull him down, and pull up his pants, and lift him to the sink and wash his hands. And, he gets a sticker.
Shouldn't I be getting the sticker?
As of today, I am going to insert a new policy. Above the kitchen sink is going a shiny plastic drawing of a cappucino cup. Every time I do what I'm supposed to do, I am going to place a wooden stirrer in the box. Do the laundry: Stirrer! Do the dishes: Stirrer! Get your pilot written: Stirrer! Go the post office: Stirrer! For every ten stirrers I collect, I get a free Starbucks, delivered to me by James.
Now I realize Nick is a toddler, and I'm an adult, so of course I am going to encourage him to do his best and pee in the proper container. But in the back of my mind, I wonder if we Generation X-ers are setting our kids up for failure with all these pats on the back for what they are supposed to be doing anyway. In the real world, no one gives you a gold medal for driving on the right side of the road and not plowing down the irritating old lady who thinks her car is magically attached to a track like at Disneyland's Autotopia. And the older I get, the more I'm aware that people are quicker to bitch you out than praise you. It's going to be a balance, this parenting thing: teaching the kids that I'm so happy for all their milestones, but the general population could give a rat's ass if they remember to wear their retainer. Maybe I'll be Sticker Girl and James can be Reality Man. Our conversations could go like this: Me: "Good job, Sophie! You brushed your teeth! Here's a sticker!" James: "And if you don't, your teeth will rott out of your mouth you stinkin' rug rat, so be grateful for flouride".
And if this approach doesn't work, there's always Zoloft.