This year, Brendan and I took each kid individually to Target to pick out presents for each other and for us. The deal was that we stay out of the equation (other than to pay for the gifts). No direction, no influence.
Ultimately, their choices were surprisingly thoughtful -- especially for each other. Here, however, is what I received.
Not that you didn't expect this from me, but I am one of those "Elf on the Shelf" freaks. I use our elf, "Oodles," to intimidate, threaten, and bribe my kids. If you want lessons on parenting, look elsewhere. If you want to make yourself feel better about your own parenting skills, or simply have a laugh at my pathetic attempts to coerce good behavior from my children -- namely, Tyson, who recently exclaimed, "Bree, get me my fucking cereal!" (hey, at least he used it properly) -- read on...
Oodles returned on Sunday morning, along with this letter:
If you notice, it was a struggle to find something bad that Hayes does. Seriously. Golden child.
Anyway, Day 1 was moderately successful, so I continued to lay it on thick for Day 2:
They did better, but one problem we deal with A LOT is that they are always asking for things ("What did you bring me?" "Can I get a toy?" etc.) ... So we dealt with that on Day 3:
This one hit home, and they had a great day... so Oodles rewarded them with hot chocolate for breakfast on Day 4:
Things went downhill quickly that day -- for Tyson, that is. And this morning, Oodles delivered this message:
I wasn't home this morning to see how it was received, but Brendan said that Tyson took heed. In anticipation of a better day -- and because I want Oodles to deliver their Hanukkah present before we leave for The Greenbrier -- I wrote this letter for tomorrow:
So, what I lack in creativity with respect to elf positioning (man, some of you facebook/pinterest people are even crazier than I am), I make up for in dedication.
PS: This really works. Case in point: Even while Tyson was rolling on the floor during Isla's ballet class, screaming, "It's too loud! It's too loud!," he did not utter a single bad word. In fact, he hasn't so much as used even a "bathroom word" since Day 2. Baby steps, friends. Baby steps.
Last night, after I polished off a large plate of hummus and pita at a local Greek restaurant, I leaned in to Tyson to ask him a question. He looked at me very seriously and said, "Mom, I have some bad news." I replied, "Oh really? What is it?" And with a crooked smile he sweetly said, "Your breath smells really terrible."
As most nights, Tyson ended up sleeping in our bed last night - coming in around 3am with a fever. Brendan is out of town, so he snuggled up next to me and fell asleep. Around 5am, he started whimpering. I asked him what was wrong, and he buried his face into the pillow, cried for a minute, and fell back to sleep. In the morning, we had the following conversation: Tyson: Do you know why I was crying? Me: I figured you had a bad dream...is that why? Tyson [tears welling up]: Yeah. I had a goodbye dream. Me: A goodbye dream? Tyson: Daddy was saying goodbye to me. [Lip quivering, tears now rolling...barely able to get the words out] Daddy was sad and he had to leave. Me [hugging him tight]: It's ok, buddy. He just went to Texas for work. He'll be back tomorrow. He recovered quickly and went off to play with Isla and Hayes. A couple of hours went by, and Aunt Lizzie arrived. I figured he was over it, and it was safe to relay the story. I asked Tyson if he wanted to tell Aunt Lizzie about his dream. As I was doing so, I looked over at him -- his eyes were again filled with tears, and his lower lip curled downwards as he tried to get the words out. I scooped him up, wiped his eyes, and decided that I needed to file this story away. Someday, we will tell it again. Perhaps when he is a teenager, this story will remind him of how much he loves his Dad.