No Threat Shall Be Empty

We were supposed to go to the Royal Melbourne Show today. We have never been to the Show as a complete family. The last time we went was when Deflector was 3, Actor was 18 months, I waddled around at 8 months pregnant with Captain Clumsy (Princess was just a twinkle in her Fathers’ eye) and because we were broke we went after 3pm on the last day because entry was free. 80% of the attractions were gone. There were no baby animals, no wood chop, no monster trucks and if you don’t consider the ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ showbag, there was a total of 5 showbags still available for purchase.
Good times.

We thought it was high time we got our arses into gear and treated the kids to what is the epitome of September School Holidays here in Victoria. Let me tell you, if you have a few kids you better have, at the very least, several hundred dollars to waste on plastic crap, greasy food and excessively sugary showbags. We budgeted for a ridiculously indulgent, fairy floss eating, multiple showbag carrying, fireworks watching, roller coaster riding, hopefully no-one spews, 12 hour extravaganza.

Well, what can I say? They were warned.
Misbehave and we Will. Not. Go.

I do not repeat myself.

When the m&m’s that Grandma left behind went missing (in other words stolen) I put my investigator hat on and went to work to find the culprit. I sent all suspects to solitary confinement. I gave the thief an hour to confess. I told them that if the offender didn’t hand themselves in we would not go to the Show.

I bet you can guess what happened next. I had four kids whining at me “It’s not fair! I didn’t do it!”
School holidays are fun aren’t they?!

No one came forward, and even though I used all my Mummy Super Powers and interrogation skills I just could not figure it out. I suspect multiple perpetrators, but my suspicions are not strong enough to force a confession.

So we’re not going to The Show.

I don’t threaten unless I am prepared to follow through. I never thought I would have to follow through on this one though, I thought the threat would be enough but it was not. Yes it sucks that potentially innocent kids get punished with the silent offender/s. But thems the breaks when you’re a family.  All in or all out. The offender/s should feel sufficiently guilty that this scenario will not happen again. Also, it is a lesson to all the kids that our threats are not empty.

Empty threats are the absolute destruction of everything you try to achieve as a parent.

My favourites:

The Count to 3.
Johnny you’d better get over here, I’ll give you to the count of three, or else!
Two and a half.
Two and three quarters.

Um. Forgive me, but isn’t that more like 5?  And what is ‘Or Else?’
Or else what?  I will put you in the ‘too hard’ basket?
My husband has always said it’s like watching a waltz

 1 2 3.  1 2 3. 1 2 3.

The ‘Pick up your toys or I’ll give them to someone who will!”
I remember this from my childhood. My mother put our toys in big orange garbage bags and told us they were going to the tip. Big orange garbage bags are difficult to hide and of course we found them in the laundry not two days later. Despite the fact that I must have been young (the garbage bags were taller than I was) I always remembered that the toys did not go to the tip. Toys cost a small fortune so if you have any qualms about flushing $100 bills down the toilet, I wouldn’t use this one.

The ‘come here now or I’ll leave you here by yourself’
You’re in the supermarket and your kid is starfishing on the floor refusing to move. You try ‘Come here now or I’ll leave you here by yourself’ and then when your child doesn’t move you say it again. ‘Come here now or I’ll leave you here by yourself.’ And then you stand and wait for your child to decide to move. You are too afraid to actually walk away because there might be a paedophile in aisle 5, so you don’t move. You just repeat yourself over and over again, giving your child the power to decide when you will leave.  

The ‘Stop that now or you will not go to Millie’s Party”
Except that you have already RSVP’d. You have already bought the gift and you have plans for a manicure in your 2 hours of kid free time. It is actually more a punishment for you if you follow through on this one.

Empty threats teach our kids that our words are meaningless.  If you say you are going to take away a toy, take it away. If you tell them you are going to walk away, walk away. If you are going to try the count to 3, when you get to 3 DO SOMETHING. If you don’t, then they will always push you further and further. If you are going to make threats, make threats that you can live with. We can’t expect our kids to obey us when we have taught them not to. We might act like it’s cute when they are babies, we might count to 3 and do nothing when they are toddlers, and we might then throw out empty threats when they are older. It really is no surprise when these kids are out of control by the time they are teens. They have grown up to believe that there are no consequences for their actions.
Nip The Bud Now.

I have been known to give away toys (CC), strip a bedroom down to nothing but a bare mattress on the floor (Princess), drive away leaving squabbling kids in the school car park when they refused to get in the car (Actor and CC) and take a brand new unopened toy directly from the shopping centre to the Salvos (Deflector).

Sometimes I feel like my efforts are totally futile. I look at them and think “WHY?” Why on earth do you continue to do this? When will the penny drop? When will you finally get it? Do you not realize that a handful of m&m’s is a mere drop in the ocean that is the Royal Melbourne Show?
And now that they’re looking at me with their sad puppy dog eyes I feel guilty.
Guilty for doing exactly what I warned them I would do.

Instead of making myself feel better by relenting, I might just take that cash and go shopping instead.

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