Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bribery 101

I remember talking to someone, actually several people, about teaching, and I mentioned the word bribery. You would think that I spoke the name of he-who-must-not-be-named. Frowns and looks of malediction all came my way. Apparently, we don’t bribe kids. Bribery is bad. Rewards are good. Okay, I am a word person, so I get the distinction. Bribery has connotations of corruption and wickedness while reward is a positive “Johnny did a good job” type of thing. Though, according to Webster’s, a bribe is simply “something that serves to induce or influence.” So, I’m not sure the difference is as great as people think. For example, I hate ironing. I mean, I abhor it with a consuming passion. But I like neat, pressed clothing. So, I iron. But I bribe myself first. While I iron, I stream a detective show like Inspector Alleyn on my computer. Since we don’t have cable and we’re on the back of a mountain ridge, we don’t pick up any local programming so video stimulation is a treat. Thus, getting to watch a TV show during the day is almost naughty. It’s my treat for doing something I despise. I think of it as a bribe.

I bribe my kids all the time—hey, no piano practicing, no computer time. Is that a reward, or a bribe? How about let’s get the dishes done and we can play “Bang,” which is the coolest card game around and unfortunately no longer available in the US due to licensing issues. I think those are all bribes of a sort. So, the next time you see me in dark sunglasses with a hat pulled low over my face, it’s probably ironing time and I’m bribing myself with a Campion.
Here's a picture just before I bribe myself.


  1. Even if we didn't play computer games you wouldn't let us get away with no piano practicing.

  2. You look like you are after the Maltese Falcon.

    Grace Duke

  3. Yeah, you can start saying things like, "Do the dishes and I'll give you my protection." And if they don't, you can assign some brothers to go in and mess up their room.
    Kid: Mom! My brother messed up my room!
    You: Oh sorry, you don't fall under my protection.

    Giving the name "The Keller Family" a whole new meaning.

  4. look down right sinister in that picture!! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only mother who bribes... It's nice to know I'm not alone! Are you guys still on for the same dates we discussed earlier? I just want to nail it down with my uncle. We are all SO excited!! Love you! Maggie

  5. Bribery? What's next? Blackmail?! Heh heh.

  6. Yes Andrew, Blackmail!!! I assure you I am very talented in that area.