Ice Cream After Dinner (and Other Toddler Blood Oaths)

It’s not just my kids. It can’t be. Surely not. 

There’s a running joke in our house about ‘toddler blood oaths.’ You see, our kids, be they two or almost five, will forget their shoes, their underwear, the direction in which they are traveling, what they were told to do 25 seconds ago, and how to ‘use their words’ in lieu of throttling one another over a Happy Meal toy, multiple times an hour. But they will never (and I truly do mean never) forget if their father or I have promised them something in exchange for good behavior as a reward, or if we simply presented something as a novel possibility to them in casual passing. Indeed, five Sundays from now I completely expect our four-year-old to approach us with a mild interrogation regarding the vague possibility of an aquarium trip we threw around recently. 

They. Never. Forget. Ice-Cream For Dinner (and other toddler blood oaths)

I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve bribed encouraged our little darlings back into bed in the midst of incommunicable nighttime outbursts, only to be presented with the ol’ “Where is it? You promised. I remember.” upon first cracking a heavy, sleep-filled eyelid the following morning. The real problem arises when both my husband and I are too sleep deprived/distracted/otherwise engaged with you know, life, to keep a decent track on what we have and have not okayed previously for the kiddos.

My oldest knows this and, bless his sneaky little heart, isn’t afraid to use it for personal gain should the opportunity present itself (parental mental note: make sure to channel that appropriately at some point). Short of keeping a notebook on me at all times, I’m not too sure how to stay crystal clear on what is owed and what is not, and should he see me waiver in confidence for even a moment then the battle, my friend, is already lost. 

My spouse and I have taken to the age-old “Ask you mother/father/we’ll have to talk first” rebuttal most recently, mostly to buy us some time between promise and delivery, in the vain hope that maybe this time they will forget what they are technically owed. 

Spoiler alert: they won’t.

So fellow parents, I encourage you to share your “accidental promise” wisdom with me. How do you focus the rewards and channel the expectations of your littles on a day-to-day basis? Leave your tips in the comments below!

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