The Empty Threats We Make as Parents

We do a lot of walking around here, which is cool for exercise and getting "fresh" air. (Actually, NYC sits well outside of the top 20 cities for Year Round Particle Pollution! (#21)) But what's not cool is when we walk for just a block and Cool Boy announces

"My legs are tired!"

We've walked up and down this city, so I know he has the stamina. He may just want to be carried; can't say I blame him. If there were a chance that I could yell out, "My legs are tired!" and someone would give me a piggyback ride to the subway station, I'd probably take it.

But I'm not buying CB's complaint. I'm 35, I have a bad back, and CB's wearing sensible shoes (with skulls on them, for some reason. Mental note: talk to CM about footwear purchasing decisions). So I whip out one of parents' most effective weapons against complaining: The Empty Threat.

In the "tired legs" scenario, I have several options for an effective Empty Threat. Good ones include:

We have to go! We'll just leave you here and pick you up later then! As we learned in Home Alone 2, being a kid alone in NYC sounds fun at first, but eventually is unfulfilling and downright scary.

Okay, we'll leave you here and have fun without you! This compounds the scary prospect of being alone in NYC with missing the revelry taking place at the trip's destination (the bank).

Well, I guess we'll just spend the night here. I don't want to sleep on this cold, dirty sidewalk. Do YOU? I like this one better because it dials back the possibility of abandonment. If CB chooses wrong, we'd face the miserable situation together. But it would still be miserable.

To avoid inflammatory comments and visits from Child Services, I'll clarify that we unconditionally love our children and WE WOULD NEVER DO ANY OF THESE. They are "empty threats" that carry no substance. But boy do they work.

Here are some others that we've found to be effective:

No computer games for ONE WEEK! This sounds good in theory...until CB is pleading for attention while CM battles the devastation of an exploded diaper. Save me, iPad; you're our only hope.

STOP or else I'll throw this toy away! Imagining his favorite Lightning McQueen wedged next to an exploded diaper will stop any kid in his tracks. However, we'd have to buy another car to diminish the emotional scarring, and we're cheap.

That's it– NO college for you! After visiting our old stomping grounds, the University of Florida, I'm sure CB dreams of being a CMOC (Cool Man on Campus). But we could NEVER prevent the opportunity for him to take part in higher education, for him to discover himself and dollar drafts, for us to spend tens of thousands on a philosophy degree. Actually...

+ + +

Cool Boy, the first time you read this post, you'll probably be mad at me. We were just doing what was best for you, keeping you from causing harm to yourself, others, or our home. And the second time you read this post, you'll probably be looking for ideas for dealing with the Cool Grandkids. You're welcome.

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