The Battle for tic tacs
2012 will not be the year the world ends*, but the year will not be without its epic battles. There’s one raging on as you read this. It involves school, stickers and tiny white breath mints, affectionately known as tic tacs. There are also tears.
The Battle for tic tacs is only a small part of The War To Drop Off The Kid At School Without Tears. It started at the beginning the child’s first year of school and rages on. We got a break towards the end of the year when all of the sudden our persistent patience paid off and she became at peace with mommy and daddy leaving her alone for the day. We thought it was over.
We were wrong. This school year started and the well of tears began flowing. Would we have to endure this for most of the year again? Having no desire to, I devised a bribe – in a grocery checkout lane, of course.
“Daddy I want tic tacs!**” she exclaimed in “every-single-store-line” fashion.
I, of course, responded with a quick “if you don’t cry when we drop you off at school anymore I’ll buy you tic tacs.” Normally it would be a quick “NO” but my penchant for bribery overtook my typically expedient impulse-buy-block.
In parent/kid terms, the deal was inked.
The fine print came later that day. We would create a standard sticker chart. Every tear-free morning, I would award the kid a sticker. When she got to ten, the tic tacs would flow.
Kids, however, like to add their own fine print to the existing fine print, and they don’t tell you about it up front. In this case, she didn’t tell me that she would be whining incessantly about wanting the tic tacs and that she would be allowed to cry “a little bit” for her sticker. Of course our first morning after making the deal, she cried. “A little bit.”*** Then she still wanted her sticker.
Now I not only had to still deal with the crying, but had to go back and forth with a whining kid about how “a little bit” of crying meant no sticker. Our first discussion about this ended up in a meltdown followed by a timeout. I thought to myself “I’m doing this why, again?”
The following morning, my wife and I talked up the day to her like we had done on countless other school mornings. I tried to keep the tic tac talk to a minimum. We all went in her classroom, she looked excited, and we got out. No tears.
Nine stickers to go…
…and the battle rages on.
* A little bird told me. See you in 2013.
** Why tic tacs, anyway, out of all the other things available at the store? Because kids are weird, that’s why.
*** A lot.