Simply Remember Their Favourite Things

“Can we play Minecraft after dinner?” asked Master8 last night. Miss9 grinned hopefully over his shoulder.

“Sure,” said Tracey. “Just as soon as you’ve emptied the dishwasher and refilled it with tonight’s dishes.”

“Yay!” the two kids squealed.

I was doing a little jig on the inside too because less dishes means more time doing the important things, like Facebooking and checking taste consistency for the good people at XXXX.

I’ve come to believe a part of being a successful parent is knowing what your kids value most -so you know what to threaten the little buggers with. Or dangle in front of them.

It’s not like in my parents’ day, or even when I was a kid, and you got sent to your room. You’d sit there dreaming about getting back outside. These days our kids’ rooms are where all the really good stuff is kept. Master21 and Miss18 even had television sets in their wardrobes!

I’ve also noticed over the years how a kid’s favourite things are rarely the ‘bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens’ you expect.

When it came to threats, my eldest daughter couldn’t care less about ‘things’. When she was of primary school age, at her birthday parties we’d have to watch girls weren’t leaving with all her presents because if someone said they liked something she’d happily give it to them. Threatening to take a doll or toy off her was akin to threatening to stomp away and sulk at her. For her it was the social side – threaten to restrict her calls to friends and you really had her attention.

What works even better, though, is using it to get the little buggers to do stuff, and Tracey is a master of this.

Part of Master8’s birthday haul was some money to spend at EB Games. Tracey ducked down to the local shopping centre with him and came back with this Minecraft thing. I haven’t played Minecraft but judging by the stellar graphics I saw this afternoon, which appear to be a call out to such classics as Pong and early Space Invaders,  I suspect it might be a game I would feel comfortable with.

“How much did we pay for that?” I asked Tracey. There may have been tone.

She told me $32.

“What am I missing? Does it come with an action figure, shirt or a watch?” It didn’t.

I was feeling a little ripped off. That didn’t last long because I have to say we are well past the $32 of value already, with Miss9 and Master8 spending as much time playing the new game as they can.

“This is awesome!” Master8 is prone to screaming out at indiscriminate moments.

It’s definitely a hit. Which is where the real value is because owning the game doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll get to play it. (Insert evil laughter here). Suddenly Master8, and his big sister Miss9, are happy to help with household chores and, instead of dragging their feet and huffing, they’re racing to get the jobs done.

Yep, knowing what your kids value most is an important part of parenting.

And as you can see from the dish washing example above, Tracey is especially good at getting the most out of it.

Even at bedtime the kids happily stopped playing and raced to get ready for bed, the promise of being able to play quietly between when they wake up and when we wake up ensuring not only their relative silence in the morning, but also their seriously trying to keep Miss5 or Miss3 quiet if they wake up as well.

I really hope they don’t bore of this game too soon.

In all, I was feeling pretty good with how things were panning out. No dishes. Possibility of a sleep in. I decided to push my luck a little further.

“Am I feeling amorous tonight?” I asked my good wife as we tidied the last few things up before bed. I tend to ask these days as it turns out I’m never quite sure. I used to get it into my head I was in the mood but Tracey would inform me I was wrong.

“Sure,” she said. “Just as soon as you’ve changed the baby’s bum and checked on the kids. And take the bin out, would you?”

I told you she was good at this.

If I hadn’t been worried about waking the kids I would have yelled out, “Yay!”


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