By: Chris Joker
I am writing this because if I don’t I will forget it ever happened. I already don’t believe it happened so maybe referring to this document will help convince me it really did.
First let me say, if you have children you know they are loud. If you have more than one child they are LOUDER and if you have my daughter… Let me just say I am exploring options for a loud scholarship. If I can find a University that offers a full scholarship for loudness, we’re there.
Back to my story, I was at home with the kids. We had just finished dinner, I was cleaning up and they were… I’m really not sure what they were doing but they were doing it in the kitchen and, of course, it was loud. Now I don’t know how the idea first occurred to me. It’s insane that it would and if I had thought before I spoke I probably would have dismissed it out of hand and never brought it up again. I said, in a calm, low tone (the kind of tone that is internationally known by children of all ages as the “Daddy is close to the end of his rope” tone) I said, “let’s see who can be the quietest.” That’s all I said. What happened next is nothing short of a bonified child-rearing miracle. I don’t know what actually made it work. Maybe the fumes they were inhaling from the exact combination of macaroni and cheese, baked beans, applesauce and ketchup on their shirts. Maybe it was ingesting just the right amount of playdoh, dog treats and marshmallows? Who knows? Sufficed to say that combination will never occur again.
My son replied, “let’s play quiet mouse”. I raised an eyebrow. My daughter excitedly concurred, “Yes, yes Daddy let’s play quiet mouse!” I have never in my life heard of quiet mouse. But being the quick thinking kind of father that I am I immediately put quiet and my children together and decided nothing bad can come of this. I can’t lose. Anytime you can play something with your child that includes the word “quiet” you have to do it. I still don’t believe what happened next. They both got quiet. Believe me when I tell you silence was never, for anyone, so golden. I almost went into shock. They were quiet. Quiet enough, I don’t doubt that if I had turned on the garbage disposal, I would have actually heard it. My son whispered, “whose the winner Daddy?” Winner? No, the game can’t be over yet; this can’t be so. This, this mouse is nothing but a tease. I felt the silence slipping away like a happy meal toy down the toilet. And then I calmly whispered, “The game isn’t over until Daddy finishes cleaning up the kitchen.” This is when I knew I had grabbed that plastic movie action figure by the last visible lock of purple hair and pulled it from the swirling waters. They fell for it. We continued with the game. By the end of this game our kitchen was so clean you could actually eat off the table. I cleaned things I didn’t even know could be cleaned and some that couldn’t. I squeezed every bit of quiet out of that mouse. Somehow we held on all the way through my cleaning every cube in the ice bin.
Somewhere in the midst of the game I realized I would have to pick a winner. This would be a bad thing. I could already hear the bickering in my head over how “NO FAIR, I WAS A QUIETER MOUSE THAN HER/HIM”. I imagined the fray that would ensue to be of such magnitude that it would actually reverse all the good that had been done during the game of quiet mouse.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered reading an article on the power of “positive reinforcement”. Positive reinforcement was my answer. After I finished dusting the bologna and knowing I could drag this out no further, I declared… a tie! I had the two quietest mice ever. The thing about quiet mice is they love (positive reinforcement) to go shopping at Best Buy. I now have two quiet mice with their own 32” plasma screen TVs in their rooms and a huge credit card debt. But in addition to the memories of the few short moments of true silence I also have a new pursuit, finding a university with a quiet mouse team. The scholarship is as good as ours.