Using Trent Reznor To Hone Your Parenting Skills
by Michele Christopher

A while back (the link is no longer valid) I read a parenting column in some online newspaper. It was about shopping with kids.

As the author tells it, he's got three young daughters with birthdays coming up. he and his wife take the kiddies to Target to scan the toy aisles so they can make out their birthday wish lists. It is, of course, a horror show for them, resulting in the parents wanting to drink themselves
through lunch. Reading this, one gets the impression that these kids have never been in a department store before.

startrek_cereal_big.jpgI've never heard of the practice of taking your kids "pretend" shopping for their birthday presents, parading them down aisle after aisle of toys, leading them to believe that the toy department is their own personal shopping mall and if they wish real hard, mommy and daddy will make their Barbie dreams come true! Mr., that's what commercials are for.

In my Reality-Based Parenting(c) world, I not only streamline efforts like buying/picking out birthday presents, I take every available opportunity to toughen my kids up and teach them the hard, mean lessons of life early on so they don't turn into sissies with a sense of entitlement.

Here's how it works in my world.

You plop your kids down in front of the tv, Nickelodeon being your weapon of choice. In twenty minutes, and without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home, your kids have found fifteen new toys they want, in addition to eight kinds of candy and four brands of cereal and you are presented with the opportunity to teach your kids some valuable life lessons and harden them up for the tough life ahead of them.

After they come to you with their hastily scrawled list of toys and games, you tell them you'll think about it, then you fold up the list and put it in your pocket. The kids are still standing there, wide eyed and shaking with giddy, over-sensitized commercial awareness.

Can we have Loaded Sugar Bomb Cereal?
Can we have Chocolate...
Can we have Donut Breakfast Sprink..
Kool Aid?
Twelve foot long fruit strips?
A pint size, battery powered Lexus complete with vanity plate?
That game with the six thousand marbles?

nin.gifYou keep a harsh edge to your voice. And just wait for it. As if on cue, they howl, they cry, they pout and throw themselves on the floor and kick you in the shins and scream that they never, ever, ever get to have ANYTHING good or fun or new.

So you do what any responsible parent would do. You sit them in front of the stereo, turn down the lights and make them listen to Trent Reznor emoting about something he can never have. You sing along, making sure to pantomime your heart breaking. You make it resonate. When the final, heartbreaking notes of the song fade out, you tell them, If you think it hurts to not be able to get your damn sugar coated chocolate filled breakfast treat, just wait until that hot chick who has been teasing you in math class for three months tells you she's a lesbian.

When you put the kids to bed that night, you eschew the lullabies and put Stabbing Westward's Wither, Blister, Burn and Peel on repeat in their Winnie the Pooh CD players.

The next day, when you realize you've used the last of your 40 pack of paper towels and you make a panic run to Costco, you take them with you. You purposely take them down the toy aisle to see if they learned anything. There's rows of brightly colored packages; board games, mechanical toys, whirring lights and beeping robots and stacks of pink boxes stuffed with busty blonde dolls. You look at your kids and you can see their hands twitch involuntarily. But they keep walking. They don't reach for a box or try to play with the electronic drum set on display.

You can't help but test them a little bit.

"Hey look, Johnny. It's that new gizmo you wanted!"
"Eh. Why bother asking for it? It would only end up disappointing me later, anyhow."

You try to hide your proud smile. And when your daughter sullenly walks past the rows of Barbies, kicks one of the boxes and mutters bitch under her breath, you quietly pump your fist and say yessssss.

Michele is the author of The Gauntlet, which appears here every Tuesday.


And if you are really good at it, they don't decide as teenagers that if Mom won't get it for them, there's always the five-finger discount route...


Michele, you seriously need to write a parenting book.


My sister used to sing, "You can't always get what you want" at my nephew.
I haven't asked him, but I bet he hates the Rolling Stones and has no idea why.


Boyo gets an allowance dependent on grades and how well he does his chores.


Timmer, so do my kids.

This was, you know, tongue in cheek.


I know, I had more and I got distracted. I'm really out of it this week. Freaking weather here keeps changing from Spring to Arctic Hurricane in 20 minute bursts. I fucking loathe Wyoming. I don't know if I've got a cold, the flu, allergies, or all of the above.

The rest was, "But even when he has the money for every damn thing he wants, sometimes I don't take him to Target or WalMart RIGHT NOW because there's nothing else there we need/want and I'm not making a special trip just so he can buy this week's latest plastic fixation."

Just when you think the whole Bionicle thing MUST be over, there's a new video, followed by a whole new generation of plastic critters.

I've been getting philosophical on his lil butt. "Son, will you be playing with that two weeks from now?" Or..."If you save up a couple of weeks, you can get the PS game you wanted." I'm making him think. He's 11 and already starting to hate me.


I usually answered with "let me tell you a little story about a friend of mine..."

They are usually gone before I get to "friend".


That was funny


I LOVE that whole series of CDs. I bought 5 of them for my cousin who has a 4 year old and is sick to death of Raffi.

Whoever came up with that idea is going to be incredibly rich.


SOOOOOOOO glad I don't have kids right now-I would fall over dead. :->


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