Have you ever found yourself, usually in a moment of frustration with your kids, echoing the words of your own parents? Whether it be "First name, middle name!" or "Because I said so!" or perhaps, "There are starving people in the world who would be happy to have that dinner!".... it probably makes you cringe, at least a little. Maybe a lot.
But sometimes they just give you good ideas.
When I was a kid, probably around 10 years old, my younger brother and I were with my dad (divorced parents, we lived with Dad on weekends). We tended to bicker quite a bit and at some point, my dad had had enough. He tape recorded us fighting and then made us listen to it. I still remember it, all these years later. It was so horrifying, to hear my awful little voice whining at my brother over absolutely nothing. I hated it so much, I remember begging him to turn it off. I'm sure it didn't stop us from fighting forever, but I bet the rest of our weekend was darn right peaceful.
Tonight my oldest son was gearing up for a little bedtime dramatics. He was completely fine until the second I was closing the door, when suddenly out of nowhere, he had a "weird feeling in his throat." Oh boy. We've been through this particular "situation" a couple of times in the last few months. Weird feeling in throat leads to overly dramatic freak out session wherein child believes he has either been poisoned, has some sort of inexplicable disorder in which he will not be able to continue breathing once he falls asleep, despite the fact that he has always been completely healthy, or some other equally ridiculous concoction. The poor kid has just the right personality/temperament/physiology combination for these kinds of bedtime hysterics (and I mean hysterics - the first time he pulled the "weird throat thing" it took forever to calm him down). He's a worrier by nature, and coupled with being rather bright and inquisitive along with extraordinarily sensitive to being even the least bit sleep deprived.. it's a recipe for nighttime meltdowns. (Not that this is typical behavior, really - but he tends to be the boy who cried "something is wrong with me!" so we're pretty well versed in his brand of drama.)
Tonight I tried to convince him that he was fine (since the other time he's had a "weird feeling in his throat" he's been completely fine physically), but he was headed down the too-upset-to-reason-with road on a fast track to meltdown-city. He followed me out when I attempted to just leave the room (to say I was highly frustrated would be an understatement), and despite my ordering him back to bed, he stood there half-crying and looking at me like I was supposed to wave a magic wand and make him feel better. That, or let him get up and hang out until he feels better. (Sorry buddy, ain't happenin').
Then it occurred to me - the camera. I quickly grabbed my little point and shoot, clicked it to "video" and before I could point it at him, he'd bolted, attempting to hide in his closet. I followed him in, recording, and by the time his brother had dug him out from behind a blanket, we were all laughing. I didn't wind up recording any whining or whimpering or random questions about whether something might be in his throat that will inexplicably grow during the night, rendering him unable to speak in the morning. But the very thought of me recording him in a state of upset was enough for him to decide to let it go and calm down. As I left the room for the second time, he gave me a little shrug and smile that said, "Yeah, I know."
Thinking back on my Dad's trick, all I have to say is - well played Dad, well played.