I have a confession.

I bribe my daughter.



I bribe her to eat, to go to bed, to wear certain things, to basically get her to do anything I need when she’s not cooperative. I’m not kidding. I literally do it all the time. All. The. Time.

But I’m not ashamed and I KNOW I’m not alone. As parents we need to do what works, and bribery works for me.

89% of the time it works, but now, because she’s wicked smart (she really is, I’m not just one of “those” parents) and getting older, she’s turned the tables on me. It’s like she sees my bribes as the opening offer in a string of aggressive negotiations. This chick plays hardball and she is good. It’s like the student has become the teacher.

While her skills far surpass mine, I think it might be genetic. You see, I too was bribed as a child. But I’m not talking “get an A on your math test and we’ll give you 20 bucks” bribery. Nope, that’s for novices. The bribes I received were MUCH more complicated and attached to higher stakes.

While I’m sure I can rattle off a million occurrences, there are two that stick out. One from very early in my life, and one from much much later.

The Distraction Bribe: In the first scenario, I was probably 3 or 4. I was still an only child and we were only living in Florida for a year or so. We lived in a townhouse in Eastern Shores and to complete the whole family planting roots dynamic, my parents bought me a puppy. It was a teeny apricot-colored poodle named Strawberry (an homage to my dad’s garment business at the time, called Strawberry SHIRTcake – see I’m not the only person in my fam into plays-on-words to name things). Anyway, we had a housekeeper at the time, who apparently wasn’t the sharpest tack in the box. She left the front door open one day, Strawberry got out and instinctively, because puppies have no fear or knowledge of boundaries, she ran into the street and it did not end well.

She was fired on the spot and in the same breath, my mom said, “Rachel, Strawberry had a little accident, I’m so sorry, get in the car we’re going to Lionel Playworld  and you can get whatever you want!” I was too little to really understand so this seemed like a logical course of action. That’s when I picked out a talking dog stuffed animal (I’m sure a shrink would have a field day with that one), named Napper, which I schlepped everywhere.

That little ball of fuzz under my right arm is Napper.

That little ball of fuzz under my right arm is Napper. And yes, I’m wearing a crop top.

There was another variation of the “distraction bribe” that revolved around pets later in life as well. I had a parakeet in my room. Her name was princess and I don’t think I even liked her. Anyway, I had gone to NY to visit my family, as I did many winters, while my parents and brother stayed back. Well, Florida had a crazy cold front and my mom walked into my room to find Princess literally frozen to death. My brother thought it was awesome and all he wanted to do was call me in NY and tell me, but my mom had to beg him not to. I’m sure his silence was not free. My mom, being my mom, obviously didn’t want me to be upset so she hatched a little plan. When I got home, she told me to go see Princess in my room and when I did, the phone next to her cage rang, immediately distracting me. I picked it up and it was her calling me from the kitchen. She had gotten me my own phone line which was a BFD (points to any of my friends who remember the number). Then I looked up at the cage and did a double-take, literally. Because there were TWO birds in there and when I left a couple of weeks prior, I was pretty certain there was just the one. I asked my mom, and she said “Ok, fine, Princess died and I went to replace her so you hopefully wouldn’t notice but I couldn’t decide between the two decoys so I got both…and your own phone line.”

The Desperation Bribe: In my early 20s, I was fresh out of college and working a job for no money while living at home. I had a cyst on my wrist I needed to get taken care of so my mother and I went to my pediatrician we had gone to since I was like 2. (Yup, even though I was at the age where I was already seeing a GYN, we still went to the ped for regular stuff and I think I did until I was like 25). He recommended a specialist and off we went. Well, what was supposed to be a simple and quick in-office procedure, ended up with me passing out and not being able to fully sit up without puking for about 3 hours. I had some weird reaction to the local anesthesia coupled with anxiety (I’m sure) and went down with my mom standing right there as the doctor yelled, “Call 911!!!!”

She FREAKED!!! “Call 911?!?!? Aren’t you a doctor?!?!?”. The next thing I really remember was her leaning over the gurney in the office as they were checking my vitals and she was saying, “Just get up Rach and I will get you a Gucci wallet. PLEAAASSSEEE!” That one sentence was better than any amount of smelling salts. I recovered and she delivered.

Come to think of it, I don’t think my brother or I EVER left a doctor’s appointment without going straight to a store to be rewarded. And if the appointment included shots?? Forget it!

So clearly, it must be in my blood, which means it’s also in my daughter’s.

Thanks mom and God help me.




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