Raising kids is hard. Not because it’s emotionally grueling or physically exhausting, but because kids are masters at finding the flaws in your plan, and since I have four kids, I have to work eleventy times as hard just to come up with plans that fail slightly less. I have examples. I bought a large vehicle for the express purpose of dividing and conquering my children. The idea was that each child would have their own space, away from siblings, and everyone would be happy and get along. Let’s get one thing straight, in my head this plan works. In practice it is a routine, miserable failure and I am stupid to hope. There isn’t enough space on the surface of the earth to prevent these guys from bugging each other. So a while back, in an effort to prevent all the infighting that goes on in the car, I hatched a brilliant plan. I would get little beanbags and throw them in the general direction of the kid/s who wouldn’t listen or stop fighting, that would at least get their attention enough to stop and listen — I should have seen this one coming. I’ll spare you the suspense, this idea failed in the driveway. I was trying to get everyone settled so I could start driving, I threw a beanbag toward kid #1 and yelled something. As I started to put the car in reverse, I felt this rather large, rather painful, thump on the side of my head. I look down and there is the beanbag I threw. Kid #1 had returned fire from the third row. My future flashed before me. Cry havoc and let slip the beanbags of war! My brilliant, creative plan would weaponize my children and turn my minivan into a tiny self contained battlefield. Call it hubris, call it desperation, call it stupidity, but I swear this was a good idea at the time.
This next one, unlike the last one, would have worked except that kid #1 is smarter than I am, and that puts me at a distinct disadvantage. Back when I had a job, I had a nanny. I didn’t really want to make the nanny responsible for disciplining my kids so I came up with a genius plan: a chart with each child’s name where the nanny could put a check mark every time a child didn’t listen. This way when I got home I could review the chart and do the necessary disciplining. I put the chart on the fridge, explained the process to our nanny, told the kids what was expected, and went to work feeling rather proud about my new plan to restore order. When I came home, I was excited to see how well my plan worked. I went to see the chart and decide what, if any, action needed to be taken. Before I even got to the fridge I could see something about the chart was not right. The check marks were large and misshapen. My daughter (who I knew was not a problem) had several distorted checks next to her name. My oldest son, had one very neatly executed check mark next to his name. Needing clarity, I asked the nanny to explain. She told me my oldest son had not listened to her earlier so she put a check next to his name. Ok, that explains that check. Then, she went on to add, my daughter wouldn’t listen to my oldest son when he wanted her to do something, so he put checks next to her name to make sure she was punished for her insubordination. This was both really clever, and severely annoying. It was at this point I realized I should drink. What was wrong with me? I’m smart. I know things about stuff. Why can’t I come up with a fool proof plan to control my kids?!? Because it’s like trying to reverse the direction of a whirlpool with a sizzle stick, which is really hard, probably.
Moral of the story: do not weaponize your children, you might get nailed in the head with a beanbag.