Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Art of Control

I'm trying to release control over things. Like the blog. I stopped sending the posts to everyone so that people could make a choice of coming to read it. Frightening for me that they might not.

At home, we've instituted a new system for getting the kids to brush their teeth, do their chores and homeworks and clean up their stuff without being nagged about it:

At 8:30am and 8:00pm I do an inspection. The list is posted of what they need to do. They can get up to 10 "privilege points" as a result of the inspection.

At first, I told them the inspection was coming and what to expect. I'd call out, "it's almost 8:30!" or, "I don't see any evidence of toothbrushing!" because I wanted them to succeed. But then, it hit me: it really wasn't important for me to want them to succeed. They had to want to succeed. And in order to want to succeed, they were going to at first have to fail.

So the warnings stopped and the inspections came, ready or not. The first couple inspections were a disaster, very low points awarded calmly but clearly explaining what was not done on the list. There was screaming. There was crying. There were protests. "This isn't fair! You didn't warn us! We didn't know it meant that!" etc.

But then we kept going. After only a couple of days of this, they were hyper vigilant. "it's almost 8:30!" would call one to the other. "Have you fed the hamster?" would respond the other. Because we couldn't otherwise tell whether they were doing it, we came up with them calling out "I'm brushing my teeth!" when that was happening and moving out into the public house spaces with their toothbrushes, brushing for two minutes to the second staring at the clock.

After only another day, they were doing their own inspections: "hamster? check! teeth? check! stuff cleaned up? check! backpack ready for school? check! I say I get 10 points, Mom, what do you think?" I think so too.

Now if only I could get all of you to scream it out so I could hear it, "I'm reading your blog!" I think I could be happy.

P.S. Notice anything? I got tired of snichols. It'll just be me for a while.

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