It’s the best punishment ever … and gives me an actual recourse when reaching “Three.” See, I thought counting was like an evil spell that put kids under a grown-up’s control. Turns out that trick, like every other aspect of parenting, wasn’t nearly as easy as it sounded.
Trouble was, I didn’t know what exactly to do when I got to “Three.” I made a big show of counting … “One!” “Two” … but Jellybean would just look at me and grin. Sure, she’s cute and all, but that just made me feel stupid (sorry, we don’t say “stupid”) I mean … silly.
I was utterly powerless, a dud, a pitbull with dentures, a Roman candle that only puffed out smoke and disappointment.
That was until My Lovely Wife gave me some advice. When I get to “Three”, Jellybean loses a book. That’s the punishment – one less book to read. This is awesome.
Now, before you load up the comments page, yes I love reading to my child. In fact, it was one of the things that I looked most forward to when I found out about being a father. I bought books. My dad gave me old Sweet Pickles books (What’s so great about Nice?” is a personal favorite) and 300 or so Little Golden Books. My Dear Sweet Mom sent all the newest, educator-recommended children’s books, along with pounds of Pooh books.
We’ve got more books than an old fashioned Baptist book-burning, and I treasure each and every one. There are the Shel Silverstein books – Where the Sidewalk Ends and Light in the Attic – I had as a kid and My Lovely Wife’s copy of Fox Eyes she got when she was like a year old. Our house is filled with books, and Jellybean, though she can’t read a word, is every bit as obsessed. She stacks ‘em and uses them to make pretend bridges and houses. She “reads” to her menagerie of stuffed animals and “nekked babies” in a language that sounds like German only sweeter.
We read her two books every night before bed. But the problem is that SHE gets to pick ‘em. And by the Great Grammar Gods she either picks the longest book this side of Ulysses (Stone Soup), one that’s just plain terrible (Little Hiawatha), one that’s utterly ridiculous (Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy) or is a long, tongue-twister that’s also terrible and makes no sense (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish … and yes, I know it’s blasphemy to dislike Dr. Suess, but go reread Cat in the Hat … see … told ya … terrible. Give me Yertle the Turtle any day).
That’s the problem. We’ve always gotta read what Jellybean wants, and man is she stubborn. You’d have better luck getting Rush Limbaugh to admit liberals aren’t the anti-Christ than convincing Jellybean to read something other than Morris goes to School for the 22nd night in a row. I wanna read The Digging-est Dog that Ever Dug, or If You Give a Moose a Muffin or Llama, Llama Mad at Mamma or The Monster Who Ate My Peas or The Giving Tree.
But N-O-O-O-O-O!. It’s Mouse Soup – a book that I could and have read in my sleep.
Thus the awesome punishment – Jellybean puts a toe out of line and I’m countin’ one-two-three faster than the guest referee in a Ric Flair/Dusty Rhodes loser-leave-town match. And then it’s “Uh-oh! Lost a book.”
Sure she may cry, but that’s the price of making Daddy read bad books.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.