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My latest epiphany leads me to Subway parenting

Submitted by on Friday, 19 September 2008 No Comment

Ever feel like you’re living a Subway commercial? You know, the one where dad says no to requests for everything from a bigger allowance to dying the cat?

I love that dad. His increasing irritation at each insane plea pretty much mirrors my own when Big Guy hits hammer mode.

I love that commercial. It cracks me up, but in all comedy, there’s a grain of truth. I found the truth in the Subway ad, and it’s led to a greater spirit of cooperation from the guys.

Honestly, I do say “no” a lot. That’s part of the territory when you’re living with a kid who doesn’t just push boundaries, but tries to plow them down with a Hummer.

I don’t, however, say “no” nearly as often as Big Guy thinks. Is it human nature or Big Guy nature to dwell on the negative? He’ll overlook 3,000 times I say “yes,” because once he gets on a ridiculous-request roll, the “nos” fall like rain.

Can we get a puppy?


Can we skip brushing our teeth just one night?


Can I stay up and watch Avatar


Why are you so bossy?

Because I’m your mother. I’ll confess to cringing on that one. It was near the top of my “things I’ll never say” list.

How long are you going to be my boss?

Until you’re 18.

And on and on until I want to scream at the sound of myself saying “no.”

Big Guy usually has started screaming at that point.

I realized I needed a way to give him a big, honking “yes” he couldn’t help but notice. Thus Subway plan was born.

It goes something like this: Everyday after Little Guy and I fetch Big Guy from kindergarten, Big Guy gets to pick what we do, and we’ll do it for as long as he wants.

That’s not nearly as indulgent as it seems, because he chooses something active that exhausts him in about an hour. But letting him call an end to “as long as he wants” has worked much better than Mom impatiently looking at the clock and saying, “OK, time to go.”

There’s a side benefit, too, to all that activity. “Take a rest” time has turned back into nap time for Big Guy, because he’s too dang exhausted to stay awake. Which means I get a break at a time of day when I’m my crankiest. Crazy like a fox, ain’t I?

I still have to stop sometimes in the middle of no storms and remind him that he does sometimes get what he wants. But there also are times when I have to decide.

Most of the time now, he accepts that as truth, because he can see a big chunk of “yes” in the middle of every day.

“At Subway, there’s no such thing as no. You get exactly what you want.”

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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