Punishment is for the birds…um, I mean BUGS

For those of you who are not infested with cicadas, I must tell you, you’re missing out on a priceless parenting tool. No, I’m not talking about a science lesson about their life cycles and boring crap like that. While that’s admirable and all that, it’s not as valuable as what I have been using the cicadas for.
Let me preface this by saying my daughter is a whole new breed from my son. With him, you could take a toy away or threaten no TV, no baseball or no allowance and actually get somewhere. At a certain point, you just had to give him the evil eye and he would obey. Of course, the sarcasm he would add was a bonus but, he was, and still is, petrified of “losing” a privilege.
The “princess” however, is completely unruffled by the prospect of punishment. We tell her she’s going to her room, she scoffs at us and tells us, “no I’m not.” Four hours of arguing later, guess what? She was right. She’s been to the top of the stairs, bottom of the stairs, the kitchen counter and the front lawn throwing her little tantrum of defiance, but yet, she’s managed NOT to go to her room.
If we threaten to withhold her allowance, she shrugs and says, “go ahead.” She is still under the impression that coins are better than paper money, anyway, so money really means nothing to her. (We figured this out when we found out the older one was trading her his “valuable coins” for her paper money).
When I threaten to throw away her toys, she remarks, “I was done playing with those old things anyway.” If we say, “no TV” she knows there will be a TV on somewhere in the house at some point in time. And if she’s VERY quiet and cunning, she can watch TV after all.
“Go to bed early,” just results in two hours of arguing and she ends up actually staying up later than she would have to begin with. In short, we are weak and worn down by our head strong and independent child. But not anymore….
With the dawning of the cicada era in our neighborhood, I’ve stumbled upon a miraculous discovery. The princess is afraid of the cicadas. Not that she’s a screechy girlie girl…believe me, she eats dirt and pokes earthworms. This discovery was highly unexpected and uncharacteristic. But something about the ugly bodies and shrieking noise they make have her crapping her pants at the prospect of touching one. Or rather, one touching her. I, on the other hand, am not afraid of the creepy little things. Which leaves me a whole new bargaining chip.
Case in point, I tell my darling child, “please finish your homework.” She ignores me and continues watching some stupid show about a dog who types on a computer. I smile tightly and ask her again. She leisurely bounces her foot as she lounges on my chair (which I never seem to get to sit in) and still ignores me. I march over to the TV and turn it off and I am met by a wail.
“Mommmmmmmmmmeeeeeeee! Why did you do that???”
“Because I asked you to do something and you did not do it.”
“But I don’t wannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnt toooooooo,” she continues to moan.
“I don’t care,” I tell her. “Get your little butt in that chair,” I point to the dining room chair in front of the spot where she has spread all of her homework, all of her half eaten pencils and crumbles of what used to be erasers. “And finish your homework.”
She gives me one of her scathing stares as she crosses her arms across her chest. “No,” she replies defiantly, her eyes challenging my authority.
And that’s when the brilliant idea comes to me. It was kind of like the light bulb above the cartoon character’s head. I smile smugly as I walk out the back door, head to the garage and pluck a nice fresh cicada off the side. I march inside with it and find my princess reclining in the same chair, TV back on. Apparently she thought the discussion was over.
I beg to differ as I dangle the insect above her, causing a blood curdling screech to arise from her. “What is THAT?????” She asks, inching away.
“It’s a cicada. And it’ll be in your bed to tonight if you don’t get off your tush and do your homework, NOW.”
Needless to say, the homework was done in five minutes flat. So until those little buggies burrow back into the ground in a few weeks, I have a way to get the Princess of “No” to actually behave. Don’t roll your eyes at me…admit it, it’s brilliant. And if you weren’t afraid of them, you’d do it too.

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