Snacks and iPhones: Bad Bribes?

Mason and I met up with three other LIC Mamas and their tots yesterday for an afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History. All of the kids are Mason’s age, and we thought they would enjoy the butterfly exhibit–a slice of the tropics indoors where butterflies flit around and sometimes land on your finger. It’s absolutely gorgeous and Mason stood in the middle of the packed room with his arms stretched up, head tipped all the way back, like he was trying to catch one. You’re not supposed to actually touch the butterflies so I prayed they’d stay out of Mason’s reach. I could picture him squeezing one to death, or trying to bite it. Can you imagine? I can just see the headline in the Post, with our mug shots side by side: Toddler Charged in Butterfly Murder, Negligent Mother to Blame.

Then Kerry, Sem, and I lost our minds (um, I mean got really brave) and decided to take them to a show at the planetarium. Shiri, the sane one, opted out. As I was chasing Mason around in the lobby before the show began, I remember thinking she probably made the right decision. How in the world was I going to get him to sit still for the show?

Truth is, I was being completely selfish. I love the planetarium. Love it–and I wanted to see the show, I hadn’t been to a planetarium in ages. And wouldn’t Mason love all the lights and sound? Once inside, we headed for the back and hoped for the best.

The show started almost immediately. From the get-go, Sem’s daughter was angelic. Mason? Not so much. About five minutes into the show, Mason started to blow kisses to the stars overhead. Problem is, he blows kisses loudly–MMMMMMMMMWAP!!! And he never does just one. He does it over and over and over. Which is really cute–unless you’re in a planetarium trying to watch a show. I kept shushing him and praying he would stop. Then an usher walked over and told me that if I couldn’t keep “the child” quiet, we’d have to leave. Kerry, who is always prepared for anything, fished around her bag and handed me a container of snacks (of course I left Mason’s grahams in the stroller, which was parked outside). I could feel that usher glaring at me. Mason took the snacks, settled back in my lap, and munched away for about 15 minutes. When he started to squirm again, I handed him my iPhone, and he sat there playing with my phone until the show was almost over. It wasn’t pretty but we (mostly) made it.

Our museum trip turned out to be awesome (and exhausting). If you live in NYC, or you’re planning on visiting, consider checking out the butterflies and the planetarium, if your kid can last through the show!

Do you bribe your kids with snacks and/or gadgets they’re normally not allowed to play with to keep them quiet? Or do you think that bribes only teach them to expect a special treat every time they’re supposed to behave?

Do You Give Your Child Animal Crackers?

Mason had a doctor’s appointment downtown this morning. It took us an hour to get there (da*n bus), and we had to wait an hour and a half to see the doctor. Mason’s been seeing Dr. O, a pediatric orthopaedic specialist whom we think is ah-mazing, since he was six-weeks-old. (He was born with slightly curved feet–a result of how he was positioned en utereo–and he wears braces at night.) There were about 10 other children waiting to be seen by Dr. O as well, so a staff member brought around a “goodie chart.” Each child was allowed to choose one snack and one toy for free. How generous. I was grateful for this service since I had forgotten to bring a snack with us. I chose animal crackers for Mason and the mom next to us loudly declared that her daughter only ate broccoli for snacks. Of course, I immediately felt like a rotten mom. I had this powerful urge to justify my decision, as in “Mason’s being really patient and really good and he normally eats very healthfully, but I think it’s absolutely fine for him to have a few animal crackers in this case,” but I just smiled and kept my mouth shut and prayed the nurse would call us back. What would you have done in my situation? Would you have given your kid the animal crackers, or just skipped the snack?

Photo: Shutterstock, BV Folsom

Holiday Flight Survival Snack: Goldfish Crackers?

I’ll be flying with Mason–solo!–this week for the holidays. Mason’s flown 15 times already, and we’ve discovered that he loves the hustle and bustle of the airport, and he actually seems to enjoy riding on a plane.  Most of the flights that we’ve taken him on have gone very well, but the last one was an absolute nightmare. The eastern seaboard was so jammed up that we had to circle Roanoke for an hour before we could continue on to New York. Mason screamed the entire time (I think his ears were bothering him), and a few people made snarky comments to us about it after we landed. Nightmare!

With that flight fresh in mind, it’s not great that I’m going it alone. (Chris has to work so he’s going to meet us later.) In addition to being nervous about scream fest #2, I’m a little freaked about getting him to sit still for so long. I took an informal poll of mama friends, and, on their advice, decided to purchase Mason his own seat so I could strap him into his car seat. There’s no way I could convince him to sit on my lap for take-off and landing, let alone an entire flight. I’m bringing books, his Sofie, a few “noisy” toys (for emergencies), and my iPhone to help entertain him. I’m also packing extra pacifiers and bottles to help his ears. If you have a better suggestion for keeping his ears from popping, please LMK!

Now I’m debating the snacks. I have a feeling that the food could make or break us. On previous flights Mason would  happily eat a fun buffet of healthy finger foods. But now My Little Food Camel is much pickier and I’m going to have to forgo my dreams of a 90-minute fruit-and-veggie-fest and hand over the Goldfish Crackers instead. Mason has been so finicky this week that cheesy crackers are one of the few (portable) things he’ll eat. I think I’ll also pack some organic apple-cinnamon grams. Anything else I should bring?