Megan's magical method

One of the highlights of my visit to the desert was seeing that Megan's college education is truly paying off—at home.

You see, Megan has this amazing technique for keeping Bubby in line and all I can figure is that it was part of her early childhood education curriculum because it sure isn't something she gleaned from me.

What is Megan's Magical Method? She offers Bubby the opportunity "to make good choices." We're talking a two-year-old here. A two-year-old who understands the ultimatum and usually—happily! without coercion!—makes a good choice.

Bizarre, if you ask me, but it works.

For example, Bubby will be eating breakfast and after two bites he'll decide to drop his fruit, waffles, whatever onto the floor so Roxie, the dog, will eat it. Megan/Mom will warn him not to do it again, but Bubby will scrunch up his face into a "yeah, just watch this" smirk and continue dropping goodies to the dog.

So Megan whips out the big guns. In her calm but firm teacher voice she says, "Looks to me like someone's making bad choices. Are you making bad choices, Bubby? We like good choices, don't we?" Instantly, and I mean INSTANTLY, Bubby grins from ear to ear, says "Yes!" and plops the piece of food into his mouth instead of over the edge of his highchair tray.

When Bubby would obviously need to hit the sack and teetered on the edge of a tantrum, Megan went through the same "good choices versus bad choices" spiel. Right away, Bubby would grin and trot off to put on his pajamas, oh-so proud of himself for making a good choice.

Sheer magic! And I don't understand why it works. With a two-year-old. Yet it works again and again. Again and again I would watch in amazement, trying unsuccessfully to catch the sleight of hand.

How does she do it?

Now some of you may worry what happens when a bad choice by Bubby prevails, that maybe that's why it works—because Bubby is scared to death of Mom's reaction when he makes a bad choice. Does Megan yell and scream? Spank his diaper-padded bottom? Bind him with duct tape and toss him out as a super-size snack for the desert-roaming javelinas?

None of the above. When Bubby makes a bad choice, Megan simply does what every other normal, non-magical mom does: She puts Bubby in time out.

I actually witnessed Bubby's refusal to make a good choice once and the time out that followed. It broke my heart -- and the heart of GiGi, his paternal great-grandma, and his great aunt Katie—because, get this, it was smack dab in the middle of Bubby eating his birthday cake.

At one point soon after the "Happy Birthday" song, Bubby started being a little cuss, wouldn't choose the "good choice" option and ended up being whisked away to his timeout spot in the hallway, away from the action. He cried as Megan hauled him to the hallway while Gigi, Katie and I all stared at each other and worked to restrain our own tears. There Bubby sat ... for less than one minute. Then he gave in, told Mommy he was ready to make good choices and cheerfully danced his way back to his highchair to finish his cake.

Like I said, it's bizarre. Even if that's the only thing to come from Megan's four years at an expensive private college (and the massive PLUS loan Jim and I still make payments on), I say it was well worth it. Because we moms all know how difficult it is to get our kids to make good choices, to do what's right, to not follow the crowd of little cussers and be left with lifelong consequences. We know that all the time and money in the world matters not one whit when it comes to teaching our kiddos to make good choices, always and forever.

Jim and I joked again and again about how long the "good choices" tactic will work. Will a teenaged Bubby one day call from the tattoo parlor to warn Mom and Dad before showing up at home with a tat emblazoned across his shoulder, neck or shaved head?

Not likely. Megan's already working on nipping that possibility in the bud. When Brianna visited the week before Jim and I, Megan was quick to point out to Bubby the various (mostly discreet) tattoos Brianna has, telling him, "Aunt B made some bad choices, didn't she? Tattoos are a bad choice and we like good choices, don't we Bubby?"

And, of course, Bubby grinned from ear to ear and agreed. Because that's what boys who make good choices do—they listen to their mommy, agree with their mommy. At least for now. At least while he's two.

At least as long as Megan's Magical Method continues to work.

Today's question:

What is one of your more memorable GOOD choices or BAD choices?

My answer:  Bad choice -- using green food coloring (that's FOOD coloring) to color my hair for a Halloween party when I was 17. My green hair finally faded right about Christmas time!