When you make an ultimatum with your kids, make sure it’s one you can live with. That’s why wives the world over glare at their husbands when aforementioned husbands take television privileges away from the kids right before the husbands leave for work on a Saturday morning. Not that such a thing has ever happened in our household.
Anyway, I digress. This story actually goes back to last summer, when Shay lost his retainer. Again. I was pretty grumpy. Actually, I was beyond furious. I threatened all sorts of dire things before finally dragging him back to the orthodontist and begging the guy to use superglue this time. Shay lost his allowance for an eternity, and the whole ordeal seemed to make an impression on him.
After that, he kept better track of the new retainer. It didn’t get left at the playground. It wasn’t discovered behind the couch, or in the laundry. It didn’t once get thrown in the trash at McDonalds, for which Bart was extremely grateful.
In fact, Shay held on to this retainer until December, when he casually mentioned to me that some kids had stolen his lunchbox at school.
“You mean the lunchbox that had your retainer in it?” I asked, and he froze in his tracks.
Yep, it was that lunchbox. Of course, I didn’t believe someone had really stolen it from his classroom. He’s at the age where nothing is his fault. Someone else has always stolen it, or moved it, or broken it. Never him.
I told him to go dig through the lost and found. After all, the lunchbox had his name on it, so it couldn’t have gotten far. But he couldn’t find it. So I went to his school and looked in the lost and found. No lunch box. No retainer. Maybe some kids really did steal it, who knows?
Finally, on January 22nd (less than two weeks ago, for those of you keeping track at home), I took him back to the orthodontist for a new retainer. This time, I didn’t take away his allowance. I just showed him the bill for $200 and sadly explained that the money could have paid for several nights in Dolphin Bay instead of the piece of wire now propping his teeth up.
Then I said “this is the last retainer I can afford to buy. If you lose it, we’ll come back to the orthodontist and tell them we’re finished with the treatment. You can pay for it yourself when you’re older.” And, I added, “if you lose it, consider it your birthday present. Because you won’t be getting anything from me or your dad.”
His birthday’s at the end of February, people. Surely he can hang on to it for a month, especially with a threat like that hanging over his head.
On Monday, I went online and ordered his birthday presents.
On Monday night, as I was tucking him in, I asked “Shay, where’s your retainer?”
He left it on the table at his friend’s house after school, he said. He was certain, he was open-faced earnest, and it was too late to call the friend. So I chose to believe him. Only the next day, when he went to the friend’s house to retrieve his retainer, it wasn’t there. And now he doesn’t know where it might be.
So this retainer lasted a total of 12 days. If we cost average it, that’s about $16 a day.
I am, once again, beyond furious. And angry with myself, too, for believing him rather than calling up the friend right away.
And then there’s the little matter of his birthday presents, which I suppose he won’t be getting this year. Because, remembering back to the title of this little post, when you make an ultimatum with your kids…
February is not shaping up to be a very cheerful month.