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Bribing Kids: Santa Is Coming To Town

A few days ago, JD and I were at the park and he ran up to a beautiful, lush spruce tree and screamed with enthusiasm,  “Mama, a Christmas tree!” He tilted his neck back and stood there, looking up, with his mouth suspended in a little circle.

“It does look like a Christmas tree, bud,” I said. “And you know what that means—Santa is coming to town!”

“Santa coming to town!?” JD said. “He’s coming to our house?”

“Yes!” I said. “What do you want Santa to bring you? What kind of prizes?” (Because of our successful run with potty training, JD calls all gifts, “prizes.”)

“I want trucks and cars and stickers and Moo-bies (movies), and ice cream and so many new books and pickles!

Me: Laughing! (Pickles!!!)

“OK, well you gotta be a good boy. Because Santa only brings prizes to good boys who eat all their dinner, clean up their blocks, go potty.”

JD stared at me with a very serious face. Kind of like this face.

“Got it?” I said.

“OK, Mommy!”

And so now I am shamelessly threatening my three-year-old with the word, “Santa.” This morning I was rushing to get out the door to work/school and JD was RUNNING AWAY FROM ME (doing a crazy dance -- asking me to "crazy dance wit me, Mama!"), refusing to sit still so I could put his socks on. I said one word: “Santa.” Suddenly, JD sat down and I easily slipped his car-dotted socks on.

Me: Smiling.

Last night we had pizza for dinner. I offered JD a side of fresh tomatoes and he gobbled them up. I also presented him with a bowl of garbanzo beans (for protein) but he wouldn’t touch them. I placed a bean in my palm. “Santa,” I said. He ate it. Now eat em, all, because Santa wants you too. He cleaned the bowl.

Me: Smiling.

Soon it was time for JD to stop watching Dora and get in the tub. He loves to bathe, so this was easy. It’s getting him out of the tub that’s a project. After a long day at work, I wanted him to get out so we could read…11 books (WE READ 11 BOOKS LAST NIGHT. I CAN’T SAY NO TO READING. IT SEEMS ILLEGAL.) Well, he refused to get out, grabbed the bar soap off the ledge and started soaping up his belly. “Santa.”

Next thing I knew we were sitting on the couch reading Where The Wild Things Are. JD leaned into me. I smelled his just washed hair—ahhhhh.

“Mommy?” said JD.

“Yes?” I said.

“Does Santa go to Monster Boy’s house (he calls the little boy in Where The Wild Things Are, “Monster Boy.”)

“Yes. If he puts his socks on. Eats his beans. And gets out of the tub when his mommy says to.”

I feel a little guilty using “Santa” to get things accomplished. No I don’t.

Are any of you using “Santa” as a way to get your kids to do things? (Yes, I realize we haven’t gone trick-or-treating yet. Or roasted a turkey, yet.)

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