Everyone's Got a Hot Button—And Mine's George Clooney
Recently a friend and I took our daughters to Atlanta, mecca of the spiritual disciplines of eating and shopping. One morning my friend woke our exhausted teenagers, coaxing them to life by hinting about our day’s agenda.
She woke her daughter. “Lizaaaaa, C. P. Kaaaaaay!!” (California Pizza Kitchen)
She woke my daughter whispering “Sweetieeeeeee, H & Mmmmmm!!” (The cheap-clothes-for-cheap-girls store in every city but Memphis). Seriously—my daughter isn’t cheap, but she’s all about a nice five-inch platform.
Motivating kids to move more than their texting fingers requires finding their hot buttons.
One summer, my daughter refused to wear rubber bands on her braces. If I couldn’t persuade her, she’d be the only metal-mouthed girl in her college sorority that could open a beer bottle with her teeth. Except if you go to Ole Miss—almost ALL the sorority girls can do that.
I made a monthly chart and suggested giving her a dollar for each day she wore the rubber bands. Thirty dollars could score her five or six cool tops at H & M online. No luck. Charts only work for Super Nanny because she’s a delicate mix of Rachel Ray and Kim Jong-un.
So I did what any veteran mom would do whose creativity petered out after “Tinkle Targets” during her son’s potty training phase. Bribe her.
It couldn’t be any old bribe—but an Instagram-worthy, braggable asset. I sought the advice of Shannon, a frazzled friend with seven kids. I figured she had to be creative to find ways to keep her husband away from her ‘til, um. . . forever.
“What does she like to do?” Shannon asked wisely.
“Shop online at HootchieFashion.com, text, start major physics projects at midnight before they’re due, not clean her room, and drag mounds of trash and clothes out of her car and leave them in our yard in full view of the judgey HOA president,” I said.
“No. What is her enticement to negotiate? Has she been asking for anything lately?”
“Well, she is quite the Belieber and wants to meet J.B., but he probably can’t talk right now with his foot stuck so far in his mouth. Um. . . she wants me to stop stalking George Clooney on her laptop when mine’s dead, Usher and Shakira to tweet her back, and an iPhone.”
“That’s it!” she said. “An iPhone is doable, and the swag factor is substantial.”
Hmmm, my daughter’s old flip phone WAS broken. It was basically useless because all it could do was make calls. Perfect. I was ready to negotiate like Tiger Woods in divorce court.
I presented her with the rubber band/iPhone proposition, and her braces were off in three weeks.
Now my struggle is cajoling her to wear her retainer. I think it’s time for another bribe. Although, “bribe” is such an ugly word.
I prefer “extortion.” That sounds like I should be wearing a black dress and sunglasses, holding a martini and a briefcase full of money, waiting to meet an international man of intrigue. And he would be swarthy and dressed in black too and . . . wait. This isn’t the appropriate time to bring up my virtual vignettes with George Clooney.
Maybe my creativity didn’t dry up during the “Tinkle Targets” phase after all.