The Easter Bunny has been used to bribe my three-year-old with increasing frequency since Christmas. I know I’m not the only parent who does this. I find myself saying things like ‘put on your clothes or the Easter Bunny won’t come’ or ‘lay down and go to sleep, the Easter Bunny is watching you!’.
When I first began to say things like this, she would look at me strangely. I explained calmly, that at Easter Time that a giant rabbit will come while she is sleeping and leave her sweet treats if she is a good girl. It’s no wonder she looked at me like I had finally cracked. I then thought to myself, who makes this stuff up?
I love the beautiful innocence of children, their willingness to believe in the magic that you tell them. A little sprinkle of magic makes childhood easy, it helps children to dream and believe that anything is possible. If I tell my daughter that the fairies brought her the milk she will drink it faster than if I tell her the milkman brought it because fairies are magical. The system does make me question things somewhat… am I over dependant on using magical creatures as a tool to make my child behave the way I want her to?
The ‘S’ word ‘Santa’ gets pulled out in September and I use this for months; Santa is watching: eat your dinner, Santa is watching stop jumping on your sister, I even use my house alarm sensor as a makeshift Santa cam. When the light goes on I tell her Santa is watching. However, she learned at a very young age if she stands still, he is no longer watching. It is always good to pull this out of the bag if your child is having an especially energetic day. But as soon as Christmas is over and old saint nick has been and gone, it’s the turn of the Easter Bunny again. Motherhood is a cycle of bribery, scare tactics and negotiations.
My new favourites are ‘fairies’. You can use these little winged creatures all year round, they are not seasonal like Santa and the Easter Bunny. I can summon a fairy for every occasion; the sleep fairy, the food fairy, the clothes fairy, and then there’s my personal favourite, created by my sister… the dummy fairy.
My daughter is three years old and a few weeks ago my husband and I decided that it was time for her to lose her dummies before my maternity leave finished and I went back to work at BubbleBum Booster Seats (I have a 9-month-old as well, I didn’t get 3 years maternity leave). This was a big decision, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my little baby girl. But I knew I needed to take her dummies to help her grow and help her speech development… not to mention the effect it was having on her dental health. I felt so bad for doing it. She has gotten instant comfort from these little lumps of plastic for her entire life, and I was taking them away from her.
My sister told me to give them to the dummy fairies and in return, the fairies would leave her a small gift. For weeks before the big day I talked about the dummy fairies and how they visit and take the dummy’s away. But feeling so bad, I created a whole backstory for the fairies. I told my daughter that the fairies needed her dummy’s for the little fairy babies who really needed dummy’s when they were born and they didn’t have any in Fairyland so it would be so kind if she gave hers to them.
This actually worked! She talked about the fairy babies every night before bed, we talked about how the mummy tooth fairy would come and collect her dummy’s to silence the crying baby fairies and she actually seemed proud that she was helping the babies. She asked me where would she leave the dummies so I said ‘on the dummy tree’… it was the first thing that came to my mind. I had to think on the spot. So now I had to go to buy a tree.
The night came when my little baby was to surrender her dummy’s and enter a dodo-free world. I went to the shops and bought a little rose bush – which my daughter now refers to as ‘the dummy tree’. I got her a little gift of some colouring books, markers, and Kinder Surprise eggs. The time came and my little lady placed her dummy’s so carefully on the rose bush for the mummy fairy to come and collect her dummy’s for her babies. She went to bed and she asked for her dummies a few times but I had to be firm. She soon forgot about it and the sleep fairies (another invention of my imagination) came to dance on her head and take her to the land of Nod.
I awoke in the morning to a very proud little girl urging me to take her downstairs. She ran into the kitchen and screamed with excitement that the fairies left her a gift and her dummies were gone. She sat colouring in and eating her chocolate egg for breakfast and I was so proud. But I couldn’t have done it without the fairies. Without magic, life can be hard on little minds and although we use our magical aids for bribery or in negotiations, they help our little ones, accept the next stage in a gentle and loving manner. So Santa and the Easter Bunny better watch out because the Fairies are my year long go to.
I asked my fellow parents at BubbleBum Headquarters if it was just me that used these mythical characters to bribe their children and I was glad to hear that it wasn’t just me.