Childhood Family

COWS! and other parenting tricks

We were having dinner the other night, and we decided a good topic of conversation would be “The times we tricked you foolish, foolish children.”

OK, so that wasn’t expressly what was stated at the beginning, but the conversation did head that way. My kids are teens now, and we find it fun to look back on when they were little and my wife and I navigated the parenting waters and we maybe used a smidge of literary license to help us get through the day. I am sure other parents can relate. For those of you with young kids or planning on having kids in the future, tuck some of these away for future use.

  • We were at Disney years ago, and they had a station where you could make and then buy your own Star Wars light saber. My son was about three, and he was very excited about building his own. At the conclusion, I told him, “OK, now put the parts back in their right places so other kids can build them.” I never mentioned that you could actually buy your creations. Dutifully, he put all the parts back, and we didn’t buy one. Lest you think I am awful, remember that this was rather smart savings, as there was roughly a 100 percent chance that the light saber would not have made it out of the store intact.
  • The ice cream truck went through our neighborhood a good bit. And we USUALLY went out and got a treat. But some days, ice cream is just the last thing we wanted to contend with. “Yeah, I used to turn the TV up so you wouldn’t hear it sometimes,” my wife confessed. Sometimes, the ice cream truck just isn’t in the day’s plans.
  • We used to live in a very popular Halloween neighborhood. The kids would come home with pounds of candy. They could have eaten nothing but candy until the next Halloween and had plenty left over. After they went to sleep on Halloween, we would get a decent selection for them to have over the next week or so, and the rest would magically disappear, often at our places of employment. One year, we decided to store all of the candy in a bin and just hang onto it until the next Halloween, at which point we could repurpose it for trick or treaters. Fun fact: If you store candy in a bin where squirrels can get to it, you will, a year later, find yourself a bin with nothing but shredded candy wrappers and squirrel droppings.
  • Never upset cows. We were riding home from a trip, and the kids were starting to squabble in the back seat. As we rode through some rural country land, surrounded on both sides by cow pastures, my wife loudly announced, “KIDS! QUIET! THERE ARE COWS!!!!” Both kids went silent immediately. I glanced at my wife. “Cows?” I mouthed. She shrugged. But they were quiet for the next half hour or so.
  • We used to have a pool, and we would always sit with the kids when they were swimming. One of our strongest rules: Thunder = no more pool. In the house. Now. There MAY have been a time or two when, as both kids emerged from underwater, I said, “I heard thunder. Everyone inside.” Sometimes,  you’ve gotta get homework done.
  • Turns out, dentists do not require you to come for a wiggly tooth. When my daughter was young, my wife informed her that a tooth that was dangling by a single nasty little thread had to be dealt with, or, per our dentist, we would have to come in for an appointment, that we may have told her was already set. Thank goodness she did not call the bluff and she let my wife deal with the tooth, so we didn’t have to fast track a non-necessary dentist appointment.

Now, I know some of you are perfect people and never stretch the truth to fit your parenting agenda. And congratulations. You’re better than we are. I think our kids have grown up just fine, and I kinda enjoy sharing with them the stories of how we had to creatively parent at times. Hopefully, this will help them when they are parents, and their children are upsetting the cows and the thunder is getting closer.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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