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I'm not proud of it, but I bribed my son

November 20, 2009|By LEIGH HAMRICK / Special to The Herald-Mail

Today I bribed my only son.

Ordinarily I'm a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get parent. I deliver the truth in all its forms, whether it be sweet honesty or blunt frankness. I don't beat around the bush, I don't shy away from answering questions even if I'm blushing while doing it, and I don't pander to hurt little feelings or blubbering protests.

But this morning, I bald-faced bribed a child, and with one of the most base and dirty vices of all time: money.

Why did I do this? Why don't I feel bad about it? The ponderings may go on. What I can say for certain about the whole situation is that I put an end to welling tears in five seconds flat and was able to move on with my life.

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My son, Maverick, is in need of a haircut. His blond hair has gotten thick and shaggy. It goes much too far down his collar and covers both ears. When he gets up in the morning, it's usually standing on end.

He has never liked me to cut his hair. First of all, I get little hairs all over him, no matter how diligent I am about pinning a towel around his neck to catch them, and these little hairs drive him mad. Each hair-cutting session usually begins calmly, with me tucking a towel into his collar and wrapping it around his neck tight enough to keep everything out but his oxygen supply.

And each hair-cutting session ends in disaster, with the towel ripped away in frustration, me yelling at him, "Sit still, it will be over in five minutes, for heaven's sake, and then you can go take a shower," and him squirming and wiggling and scratching at three dozen itchy spots.

On top of that, I don't give him a sucker like they do at the barber shop.

So it came as a complete surprise to me this morning when he asked me to cut his hair. Twenty minutes before the school bus was due to show up.

He came to me with scissors and comb in hand. He'd even run the comb under water. "Please," he asked me, "cut my hair. It's too long and it's bothering me."

"But I thought you liked going to the barber shop," I protested. Deep down I knew that if I'd been on top of things, his hair would have been -- and should have been -- cut about three weeks ago. Maybe four. But such things get sifted down to the bottom of the financial pile and sometimes pushed out altogether. Electric bill? Very necessary. Get oil before winter sets in? Got to, even if we don't want to. Maverick's haircut? Well ... it can wait.

"It's uncomfortable," he said simply. "I don't want to go to school uncomfortable today."

Of course, my answer was no. It had to be. There was no way I could cut his hair before the bus came, plus he'd have to take the obligatory shower afterwards. This resulted in two great, big, dark, doe eyes, and rain was in the forecast.

Was it because I was in a good mood? Was it because ordinarily he's a pretty good kid? Was it because I knew that in 20 minutes I'd have the house to myself?

I may never know. What I do know is that for one lousy dollar I bought a ticket to peace. "If you'll knock it off," I said nicely, "you can have this to get a snack at lunch today."

That was all it took. Tears dried up. Catastrophe avoided. Calm restored. Such bliss for such a small price.

If only this worked in other aspects of my life.

Leigh Hamrick is a a freelance writer and mother who raises a son, a daughter and a husband in Frederick County.

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