Like so many low parenting moments, desperation made me say it. I mentioned to Lauren, if she didn’t cooperate with me, I’d be sent directly to Bad Mommy Jail.
Before you judge, please consider the scenario. Lauren and her brother were playing in the tub when I spotted excema on her back. While she poured bath water into plastic teacups, I attempted to put prescription oil on her.
“I don’t want the oil!” she shouted.
“But you need it for your excema,” I explained. “Otherwise the rash will get worse.”
She held up her hand. “No!”
“Come on, Lauren.”
That’s when Bad Mommy Jail came to mind. And surprisingly, the thought of my being whisked off to the hoosegow made my children listen.
“But I don’t want you to go to jail,” Will said, eyes wide.
“I don’t want to go, either,” I told him. “But parents are supposed to take care of their kids. If I don’t put this medicine on Lauren, the doctor will think I’m not taking care of her. Then, I’ll get sent to jail for sure.”
“Put it on, please!” Lauren begged. I didn’t feel right about the way I managed to get her to comply, but the effects worked so well, I have used the Bad Mommy Jail card again. And again.
The method is so convenient—like drive-through coffee—dependable and quick to please. Even though the technique works so well, I do worry that Bad Mommy Jail might come up in therapy when they’re older. But in moments of weakness, parents can’t always control what comes out of their mouths. Or can they?