I stood in line patiently on one of my errands last week. There were lots of people with complicated requests, and the workers were doing their level best to help while keeping the line moving. I smiled at the clerk who helped me and acknowledged her difficulties when she apologized for the wait. I hope it helped her get through the rest of her shift, but really it wasn’t so much a noble spirit on my part as promising myself a reward if I would behave until it was my turn at the counter.
I learned about the Bribery School of Parenting from a friend, who learned about it from one of her aunts. For every three errands I had to run with kids in tow, I would do one thing for them. I reminded them of the deal when we set out, and mostly it worked. That’s when I started using the technique on myself, to get through the unpleasant errands we all face.
The reward I chose for being a good girl in line was a half-yard of fabric for which I have no project in mind (and a few bright, shiny objects on the clearance table). I admitted this to the clerk who cut my fabric. She thought it was the best idea since sliced bread, and reminded me that not only was it cheaper than a half-pound of chocolate there were also fewer calories.
There’s nothing better than a day with a good giggle.
I checked off the last item on a huge to-do list (one that spanned several months), and decided I needed to reward myself. Since I just happened to be going by the See’s Candy store, it was obvious what that reward should be. As I filled up my shopping basket – giving no thought whatsoever to the cost in calories or dollars – it occurred to me that this was a good time to re-examine my characters’ backstories. I realized I may not fully understand the go-to rewards for all my major characters, especially the villains. As it happens, Susan, the protagonist of the Chenille series, is a confirmed chocoholic. Yes, this is a case of art imitating life. All of my characters have some aspect of me in them, and Susan got the sweet tooth. That makes it easy to write scenes when she rewards herself; the other characters, not so much. Now that I have a little extra room in my schedule, I’ll spend part of that time considering what motivates the characters who are least like me.
The good news is, after twelve years of karate I know how to fall. The bad news is, while saving other body parts I scraped my palms on the sidewalk something fierce. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a quilter can do using only her fingertips, the answer is not an awful lot.
Since I wasn’t able to work on Garden Variety Aliens, cut kits, or do anything else that required me to grasp something with my entire hand, I decided to stare at the shelves. I noticed two small baskets, stacked. When I took them down, I discovered more stuff for the “what on earth was I thinking” pile.
I’m pretty sure these stars were from my Chart Period, when I followed the instructions from the wise parenting books and tried to motivate my kids with stars on a spreadsheet. You can tell by the number of stars left in the packages how successful that method proved. They went into the trash; the other items went into a box with embellishments.
I have no idea where the little 2″ squares came from. There aren’t enough for me to have cut them for a purpose. I suspect they were found treasures. I will keep them, although I don’t know what I’ll do with them. I also don’t know where the puzzle piece came from, but I do know what to do with it:
I also found a collection necklaces that belong to my daughter. She hasn’t worn them in at least ten years. She may never have worn them, but merely collected them as gifts or party favors. I suspect she had the sense to dispose of these years ago and that I fished them out of the trash. They, too, will go in the embellishment box.
The baskets themselves will go in a different stack in another room. That leaves me with space on the shelf.
This may be a large enough space for a simple CD player. That’s my hope, at any rate, and I will jealously guard that empty space until Mother’s Day. Maybe I’d better fish the gold stars out of the trash and start a spreadsheet for me – 90 stars for my big reward!