My Empty Threats

The box in the corner, the one filled with toys, that's what I call my empty threat box. Right now it contains some wooden train track, assorted plastic dishes, one bright pink bouncy ball and a plush horse head to give it that Godfather look. It sends the message that one day I might grow some balls and be a consistent parent.The point of the box is this: if the kids don't help me pick up their toys, then it goes in the box. And if a toy goes in the box, I give it away. I have no intention of doing this. Mainly because I'm a big pussy.

We have been working on cleaning up after ourselves for the whole week. Not only is it a good lesson to learnt but I'm tried of picking up the same toy no less than 3000 times in a single day. I'll clean up and an hour later it will be in the same condition. Which is to say that the living room has become the 10th circle of hell. A special place reserved for parents that never taught their kids how to clean up or to eat their vegetables. You spend eternity picking up the same hot wheels car over and over and over again.

I've been given the advice that I should sit my 3 year old and my 2 year old down and explain to them why we need to do this. I should tell them the truth. But as always there are 2 versions of the truth.

The first truth is that if we can't take care of our stuff, we don't deserve it. There are many unfortunate people in this world that could use this crapola that you call toys. Besides, it's a good thing to practice charity. But they already know this. Every month we take a box of household items and give it away. We make a day out of it, a big song and dance. I do a hell of a dance. Also, we live by this rule: if we get a new toy then we have to pick out an old toy to give away. Now they think that they are getting all new stuff because I'm putting things in a box and it is making them excited.

The second truth is this: Because I'm Dad, that's why. I'm the alpha and the omega. I am him that is he. I am your world, I am your beginning and your end. We put things away because I said so. You don't need any more reason than that. Some get off your lazy asses and pick up your toys.

I like truth number 2.

Besides, it is my firm belief that they wouldn't understand truth number 1 anyway. The are 2 and 3 man, they understand that Dora is on the Tivo and that's about it. Last week my son sucked all the red out of a marker. Almost every single drop. Now the marker won't write anymore. I just don't think he would fully get lecture on personal responsibility right now.

So I'm still left with the box of empty threats and 2 kids sitting on the couch waiting for their next marker meal. Let me tell you how this is going to play out. I'm going to put everything in the box. In 30 minutes or so they will take everything back out of the box. Now we have come full circle. We'll continue this cycle for weeks, days and years until I end up in a nursing home putting things in a box.

The nurses, and they will be hot thong wearing nurses, will watch me. They will be confused at my behavior and senility. One day they'll come up to me and ask what I'm doing, if there is anything I need.

I will ask for some Red Markers and Chianti.


  1. Let me help. You are using the wrong threat. No sane parent is going to throw away a toy they just paid for. So the proper threat is "If I pick it up I get to put it where I want." Then put it in the attic or basement or high shelf. The box can then be used as a) retrieve a toy in exchange for good behaivior or b) after they are asleep exchange some out - then they will think they have different toys to leave out.

  2. I am a mean Mommy. That's right, I said it. It was passed on down to me from my Dad. If it's on the floor, it belongs in the trash. Do I throw it in the trash,..I sure do. Let me qualify something here,..I have never paid full price for a toy and on average they cost less than $5. I am queen of the bargains afterall. How often do I have to do this? I have only ever had to do it once. That's all it took. After they saw the toys literally be thrown in the garbage and out the door, that's all it took for them to know Mommy is serious and Mommy has a bit of a mean streak. Charity,..maybe that's a better idea. Maybe I'll call your hippy BIL and get some advice on that.