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Because I have a shy child, I am in total awe when a mother just drops off her kid at a new camp or school and the child just effortlessly bounds into the class with barely a wave.

In f–king awe.

Sorry. Usually I don’t swear but someone has been making fun of me for using “effin.” Look I can’t help it if I’m a goddamn lady.

I brought 4 1/2 year-old Dylan to a new art camp this week. And while other kids were bouncing gleefully into the building, my daughter was crying in the car, then sobbing in the elevator, then hiding under a table while I pleaded for her to come out. Now and then a very sweet teacher would appear with a stuffed animal as a way to lure her into the classroom and Dylan would burrow further under the table.

I happen to think stuffed animals are seriously overrated. But sweet teachers are greatly appreciated.

While holding back my own tears, I finally coaxed her into the classroom where the teacher was discussing surrealism with a bunch of 4, 5 and 6 year-old’s.  Is this how they roll out here? In the city, we were all playdough and crayons and waiting in line for swings.

Dylan DID NOT WANT ME TO LEAVE.  An existential talk about surrealism even makes me want to hide under a table, so I was sensitive to her feelings.

After 50 minutes, I had a pretty good understanding of Miró and the inspiration behind his paintings (the upside of being trapped at your daughter’s art camp). And I had finally convinced Dylan to let me leave if I brought her back an M&M cookie from Starbucks.

If you don’t have a shy kid, don’t judge me. Bribery is the secret weapon of desperate parents of reserved children everywhere.

By the time I returned, Dylan was happily creating her own work, inspired by surrealist artists.  I swear. I mean, it was just a drawing of an eyeball or something but it had meaning man.

P.S. Next week, it’s on to Pop Art. I hope they rent “Factory Girl.” That would really teach those young kids a thing or two. Mostly about the downward spiral of drug addiction but you know, it’s all a valuable learning experience.

45 Responses to the cookie crutch

  • Kathy says:

    I’ve used the cookie bribe on my daughter too many times to count. Now she’s 15 and I’ve moved on to shoes! Stick with the cookie it gets expensive with shoes!

  • kristen says:

    i was like dylan as a child…i still wish i could get under the table sometimes, but usually my booty won’t fit.

    i feel more blessed than i ever have that my girl is outgoing and will bound off at camp, on the playground…whereever. she just walks up and asks to play which still, 8 1/2 years later, blows me away.

    never underestimate the power of a bribe. word.

  • Kim says:

    I am currently potty training my 3 yr old son and bribery totally works. 5 M&Ms for a pee or a poop no matter what time of day—right before breakfast?—7AM pee and poop– 10 M&Ms for you sweetie! We keep a bag at camp and he gets the reward there too. Only 1 pee accident in the past 2 wks. Bribery works!

  • Halala Mama says:

    Good luck! We had a first grader last year who had to by physically removed from her father for the first two weeks of school, but she did okay after that. 🙂 It takes time, to be certain.

  • Robyn says:

    Bear is the opposite of Dylan. Which means I have to use the bribery (usually sweets) to get him to stop running away from me and COME BACK!!!

  • Caroline says:

    So funny! You are not alone friend! Our little guy put on quite a show at Sunday school. I always say “I am not above bribery” 😉 smilinggreenmom

  • Carolyn says:

    Enjoy it. When she gets to be around 12 or 13 she’ll be asking you to drop her off around the corner. It’s NOT cool to have your mom hanging around at that age. Trust me, I know 🙂

  • hokgardner says:

    My older daughter has a very big personality, but she can be very shy and withdrawn in new situations. It’s tough to pull her out of her shell at camps and such. I’ll have to try the cookie bribe.

  • amy says:

    Oh, we have the same problem. I’m totally all about the cookie bribe. Or in our case, the Baskin & Robbins bribe really is quite effective.

  • Madge says:

    my oldest is beyond shy. i gave up on camps of any kind when he was about five or six. just gave up. so you totally have my sympathy and i 100 percent support your bribery.

  • tracey says:

    Art camp, eh?

    I’ve bribed my kids many times. When you want them to do something that they don’t want to do, you have to make it worth their while. Eventually, she won’t need to be bribed.

  • Daphne says:

    Cookies make everything better. Good plan, plus, way to get in on the art class even though you are clearly out of the designated age bracket!

  • I read this as I sit here, perched next to my 3 year old who is happily drawing her family…all of us have an extra eye.

    Perhaps she’s channeling Picasso? Maybe Imp needs art camp.

    And yes, cookies make EVERYTHING BETTER. My 3 year old happens to heartily agree.

  • Gretchen says:

    The grass is always greener. I’ve always been a little secretly jealous of you moms with the clingier kids. My son just runs off, happy as a clam, without a goodbye, or even a backwards glance. I have to bribe him with a cookie to come back and give me a kiss goodbye. I try to tell myself that he is simply confident and outgoing, and that it isn’t that he doesn’t love me and can’t wait to be rid of me!

  • Mrs4444 says:

    When you leave her (with a smile on your face and a gentle word of encouragement) you are teaching her that you have confidence in her; that you know she is strong and you know that she will “be okay.” If you stay, you are validating that it is a frightening place to be and that you’re not quite sure she can handle it. (Just my know-it-all opinion.) That said, she is in a new house, in a new neighborhood, with new kids, etc. so it makes sense that she is fearful in new situations. THAT said, you did say she has always been this way. What does she say when you talk it through later? Does she hate you for leaving, or does she say, “Mommy, I was scared, but then I was okay!” Tough situation; it sounds heartwrenching.

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    You and Rick have too much money if you’re sending your kid to Art Camp. A box of crayons & some paper; and a warning about where the paper ends and the wall begins….is all the instruction she needs.

  • Ella says:

    Is there any other way to parent besides bribery?
    My oldest girl was so shy she once lay down on the city sidewalk when we ran into a friend from dance class. They outgrow it, but it’s frustrating as hell while it lasts.

  • I endured the shy kid syndrome with my oldest. So I reveled in my 3rd kid’s being the type who would just walk into the classroom with nary a look back. Why, yes, I am a fantastic mother! I’d preen.

    I figure if people are going to blame me for the bad, I’m gonna take credit for the good (even if I don’t deserve it).

  • Denise says:

    I have the bounding in the room, see you later mom type. Number two, she’ll be the leg-hugger, the crying type. I know it. We’ll find out in September.

  • If I cling to you, will you get me a cookie at Starbucks? Also, a tall skim chai? Awesome!

    Hey, what’s a little cookie. Give the girl a break. I agree with Carolyn – the time goes fast; she’ll be ready to leave soon enough. Just buy plenty of cookies in the meantime.

  • SoMi's Nilsa says:

    If I can bribe my dog with toys and treats, you can bribe your child with cookies. In fact, you could probably bribe my husband with the same!

    BTW, I know I’m late to the party, but did I just see you’re on a panel at BlogHer? Does this mean I’ll actually get to meet you? Tickle me pink!

  • I feel your pain! We tried putting our daughter into a part-time preschool class so she could socialize more with other children. She cried the entire day! We had paid for a month, but she only went to three classes. The crazy thing is she isn’t shy at all, she’s just a mama’s girl. Good luck with the rest of the week!

  • Elisa says:

    My daughters are not shy. Not for longer than 5 minutes at least. They seem to have inherited my “in your face” gene, which comes automatically with Italian blood I’m afraid.

    No, they are not shy. But I bet they’d be willing to fake it for an M&M cookie.

  • Tracy says:

    I’m a firm believer in the occasional bribe. And whatever works, works. I’m an adult, and it’s amazing what I’ll do just for a couple of Oreos!

  • TRACI says:

    I will also tell you how we roll out here in the ‘burbs: everything is candy coated, and ‘incentives’ are the new ‘bribes’.

  • anymommy says:

    I hardly ever judge. I move around with toddles in mass…whatever works. And…I think it’s really cool that you’re patient while she settles in, a lot of teachers around here recommend the dump and go, claiming the kids “get over it quickly” when you’re gone. I never feel good about it.

  • Margo says:

    I have a shy child. He’s 7 now and not nearly as shy as he used to be. Raising Your Spirited Child is a book that helped me understand him!!! It helped me see that in addition to shyness, he was also extremely sensitive to new situations. The book showed me ways to go at his pace. I’ve been practicing the techniques for years AND IT’s HELPED. He can now walk in new situations and roll with the punches. It’s such a relief!

  • Amy says:

    Hmm, thinking my mother should have bribed me! I am a pre-school drop out. My mother did not have a chance.

    I made it through A is for apple day, B is for ball day but on C is for cake day my mother had had enough! (I do understand though, she was walking in snow, tempatures under 25 below, and pregnant at the time, with 2 other youngsters at home. She had no time to attend pre-school with me.)

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kelcey kintner