An Incentive Or A Bribe – You Decide

Oct 25, 2011 by

I realize there is a difference between an incentive and a bribe.

Incentive has such a nice ring to it. It’s positive, uplifting … a goal to reach. A bribe is tawdry, it’s more of a, well, bribe.

When it comes to the SONS of Thunder, you can dress it up all you want. But boil it down and trying to get the SONS to do something out of their comfort zone involves a bribe.

Such was the case this past weekend. Middle SON, who is about to “crossover’ and become a Boy Scout, was off to the woods with yours truly and other scouts and dads to have a bonding experience of freezing to death.

It was also time for Middle SON to man up and sleep in a tent with his friend. Just the two of them. No dad(s). Said friend and his younger sibling are affectionately known as the SONS of Lightning.

Putting the SONS of Thunder together with the SONS of Lightning results in one of two things: it’s that calming sound you play at night with some CD of nature sounds you paid way too much for but still soothes you to sleep; or it’s the mother of all thunder/lightning storms – all hell is breaking loose and you just know your eardrums are going to explode right into your brains. And that’s just before you get fried to a crisp.

And with the SONS and the SONS, it changes about every five minutes. You’re calm. You’re going to die. And so forth.

So night approaches and it’s time to bed down. I have my tent on one side, Lightning dad has his tent on the other and in between is SON and SON sharing a tent.

I won’t bore you with how many times Middle SON asked what time is it and how much longer till morning and is there an extra flashlight and now he has to go to the bathroom and what time is it and this flashlight doesn’t work and does he have enough clothes on and where’s his hat and …

Guess I just did.

Let us jump to morning. I look in my tent and I am alone. This observation can only mean one thing. Middle SON is in the other dad’s tent. But no. Because the other dad emerges – he’s probably coming over to get his SON out of my tent. And we look at each other and smile. The SONS have made it through the night. Together. In their own tent.

And sure enough, Middle SON soon emerges with a big, big grin on his face.

“How’d you sleep,” I ask.

“Mom’s going to pay me $30,” he replies.

Come again?

“Mom’s going to pay me $30 for sleeping in the tent,” he says.

And then Middle SON goes up to the fire pit and informs all his friends that as soon as this arctic camping trip is over, he’s off to the Big Toy Store That Is Completely Overpriced With Toys That Last All Of Five Minutes Before They Break And Cost A Month’s Car Payment.

And all the other dads look at me and say “thanks.”

This was not a “thanks” like you’d say if someone saved your kid from drowning. No, it was more like a “great, now I have to go to the Big Toy Store That Is Completely Overpriced With Toys That Last All Of Five Minutes Before They Break And Cost A Month’s Car Payment” kind of thanks.

So I call the Little Black Dress and very sweetly ask what is going on with said SON and said bribe.

“It’s an incentive,” she informs me.

“And he only gets $15 a night. He has to spend the night in his tent for two nights to get $30,” she continues.

“You bribed him?” I ask.

“It’s an incentive.”

And that last “it’s an incentive” is said in the tone one uses to end all discussion.

After nearly 20 years of marriage, I am slowly learning when to just let it go.

And yes, Middle SON made his $30.




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