Notes on the journey of motherhood

The Scientist

I have just made the mistake of sending my 4 year old son off for a nap with a brand new toy.

The toy is a Lego figure, bought on a whim on a shopping trip.  Normally these trips are planned and executed with military precision; today it was a ‘We-need-to-get-the-Heck-out-of-here’ trip.  5 days of near-constant rain will do that to you.

We headed up to our nearest largish shopping centre.  To my relief, All 3 Boys Behaved.  They were polite.  Charming even.  Boy 2 happily made smiley at the table next to us in the food court, chatting indecipherably – as only a 2 year old can – to the toothless lady seated next to us.  He was so cute and smiley, that I let him out of the pram.  And in return for my act of good faith, HE DILIGENTLY AND ADORABLY HELD HIS BIG BROTHER’S HAND, who in turn obediently held onto the pram strap.

It was like I was Jesus, and they were my disciples.  There was no hiding in clothes racks (by me, or the offspring).  There was no chasing children and tackling them before they disappeared up a rising escalator.

It was the kind of trip that makes you think “Wow, I am surprisingly quite good at this mothering thing”.

Hence, the Lego figurine purchase.  I was high on oxytocin, that hormone that makes you in love with your children and being a mum.  You know, the kind of love that makes you shed money like Britney Spears sheds undies.

According to Boy 1, who is our resident Lego Obsessive Compulsive Expert, the figure in question is a Scientist.  The helmet is clearly not a fighting helmet, but a Radiation Mask.  And the prosthetic leg must be the result of an industrial accident involving that red laser gun and too many late nights in the lab.  The glowing red rifle scope?  A monocle (ala Mr Monopoly: it commands respect amongst his colleagues).  The fiercely down-turned eyebrow?  He’s concentrating while contemplating his latest peer-reviewed article.

Clearly, Lego Scientist has been working on his own body to create part-man, part-robot: one that can create chemical weapons during the day, then go home to enjoy reruns of Mythbusters over a creamy bowl of Gnocci.

As I am writing this post, Boy 1 is upstairs indulging in his Love of the New, and decidedly NOT NAPPING (that was part of the deal).  Downstairs, I am enjoying writing, having a cup of tea, and feeling not at all guilty about bribing my children with Lego.  Well, maybe just a bit, but its worth it for a little insight into my eldest son’s disturbed mind imagination.

{Image source:}

How do you encourage desirable behaviours in your children?  Where do you draw the line between ‘reward’ and ‘bribe’?  Comments?  You’re welcome!!

16 Responses to “The Scientist”

  1. Bree DeRoche

    There is no line between bribe and reward! Is there? I guess the reward comes after the fact, while the bribe is promised before. Shades of grey to them, I’m sure. Whatever gets us through those long, rainy afternoons.

  2. Marcy Mills

    I struggle with this every day. This afternoon I offered Winnie a ‘reward’ for taking herself to the toilet to do an urgent poo while I was busy feeding Berni. My motive was to encourage her to self toilet. I told myself that it was a reward even if it was offered before the fact. That’s what I have been telling myself so I don’t feel bad for bribing…

    • the rhythm method

      Its a thin line, isn’t it? I offer stickers as incentive/bribe/reward. I figure its cheap and they always get a thrill. Thanks for your comments. :)

  3. Wendy McDonald

    …as long as desired behaviour and a degree of gratitude is achieved, I think bribery is a perfectly acceptable parenting technique! (visiting via Weekend Rewind) xxx

  4. life in a pink fibro

    Lego minifigs are great reward – I use them for when Mr7 makes 25 nights reading or something like that. Like your Boy 1, he loves Lego. But I’m seriously impressed by that imaginative explanation about why the guy pictured is not a cyborg warrior of some description. Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro today. :-)

  5. Felicity

    I just popped in to say that as I clicked your link ‘Scientist at The Rhythm Method’ my mind was whirling at the possibilities that could greet me – most of them at least ‘R’ rated*.

    You are undoubtedly one very clever Mummy and I think supporting your son’s enthusiasm for all things ‘scientific’ is a most justifiable way to buy some time for your own pursuits!

    Enjoy your weekend,

    Felicity x

    *I think this says a lot more about me than I realise

  6. fearfulgirl

    I love it, Karen.

    “The helmet is clearly not a fighting helmet, but a Radiation Mask. And the prosthetic leg must be the result of an industrial accident involving that red laser gun and too many late nights in the lab. The glowing red rifle scope? A monocle (ala Mr Monopoly: it commands respect amongst his colleagues). The fiercely down-turned eyebrow? He’s concentrating while contemplating his latest peer-reviewed article.”

  7. Claireyh

    We call them bribes, the kids see a reward, if the rules are known and kept to, as in if you do or behave this way you shall benefit by such and such, and they do their bit I think we have to close the deal. But a good friend with an annoying son is rewards him daily with little gifts for just trying to be good, it does my head in and I can feel us drifting apart due to his revolting (and rewarded) behavior.

    If he hits one of my girls, but apologizes and agrees not to do it again he gets a treat!

    • the rhythm method

      In our house, we know a toy is the new favourite if it gets taken to bed or the bath. Although not all bath /toy combos are good. Sometimes it makes for very soggy bedtime cuddles.

  8. keepcatebusy (Cate)

    I used to encourage my first with lovely little things like trips to the library or the cathedral (my first has a thing about stained glass)…but now, with 3 kids and 2 jobs, I’m like – if you don’t whinge you can all have chocolate…blah. Nevermind. At least they don’t whinge (much!!)

  9. Julie

    Oh My goodness! I love the elaborate descriptions! Especially the down-turned eyebrow “Contemplating his next peer-reviewed article” Yay Science! :)

  10. Carli

    I love kid’s imaginations. And we’re not so great with bribery and rewards, my son can’t get in a vehicle without asking for a toy but I’m working on it.


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