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Sometimes I give my daughter a cracker for getting in the car. It’s an activity that she does not particularly enjoy which we have to do several times a day, and I find that if I sweeten the deal with a saltine she is a much more pleasant passenger. Say what you will about bribing children, munching is preferable background noise to shrieking.

This has got me to thinking that my kids have it pretty good. They get treats, rewards and incentives for some very mundane tasks.

If you clean up the den we will have lots of space to play!
Take you bath nicely so we will have time to read together before bed.
You can have dessert as soon as you finish your pizza (unclear why pizza is now a health food that I am pushing).
If you take a good nap we will go to the park!

Can I Googlemap directions to this magical land where taking a nap is not the reward in itself? I know what I would give for a good nap (my appendix, gall bladder and most of a kidney. Deal.), but my children get the nap and the park without any ‘ectomies’. Lucky dogs!

They made out like bandits last time we were at the dentist – they got stickers, pencils, new toothbrushes, and Sponge Bob toothpaste. They also got to choose fluoride flavors from a menu that included marshmallow and chocolate. On Sundays my three year old wavers back and forth between wanting to go to Chuck E. Cheese and wanting to get his teeth cleaned.

Imagine if the over 30 set had such motivation to go to the doctor. Hours d’oeuvres in the waiting room, live entertainment during the blood pressure check, a choice of which color scale to use, and a Smurfette stethoscope! I would never delay scheduling a pap smear again. (All kidding aside, there being only one female smurf begs all sorts of questions.)

When my oldest son finishes his homework he gets to read or play for a while before getting ready for bed. My prize for helping him finish his homework? I get to make lunches. Lunches that my children specifically request and then don’t eat the next day. Worst. Reward. Ever.

So in the interest of fairness and justice for all I have decided to start an incentive program of my own. I now get a mini Twix for getting into the car nicely. I get two if I get myself buckled without poking or teasing the person next to me. I get an extra game of Tetris for not yelling during bedtime. And you bet your pizza I get dessert when I finish what’s on my plate.

And at my next doctor’s visit the dangerously high numbers on that fluorescent purple scale will indicate just how well I am succeeding at the tasks of life. And it may also signify that it is time to start rewarding myself for using the treadmill.