Empty Threats

In a rousing game of “Who gave the best empty threat on the car ride”, we sat under the stars with our necks kicked back, telling tales from our 6.5 hour car rides up to Bass Lake for our Loftus family vacation. 

My brother-in-law, James, said he would pull the car over and make his kids get out on the side of the road (though he promised us he would actually do it!).

Ryan threatened that we just wouldn’t go to Bass Lake. He convinced the car that he would drop me and Mara off at the lake, and bring home whoever wouldn’t stop screaming and fighting. 

And the ultimate irrational threat of all? The winner? If Coura didn’t stop asking Ryan for his orange tootsie pop, he would reach into her stomach and pull out the one she already ate.

All of these desperate moments brought me back to my childhood, and the times my Dadio, the calm, cool and collected enforcer, followed through on those threats. Always the king of his word, the master of a good follow through. 

When I was around the age of 10, my dad was so fed up with all of us sisters fighting in church and again on the drive home, that he promised,  “If you don’t stop fighting I’m going to pull this car over and make you walk home!”

And he did. 

Michelle was acting like a classic teenager one Sunday afternoon and kept putting off her chore of washing the car. My Dad said, “I’m going to wake you up before school starts and make you wash it at 6am if it doesn’t get done today.”

And he did.

We tell these stories to our girls and they enjoy the levity of the moment in hindsight. I read on all of the conscious parenting strategies Instagram pages that threats and fears aren’t great tactics, and I mostly agree. But sometimes they become family history stories, badges of honor that we had parents who cared enough about us to stick to their word. 

Obviously we didn’t pull the car around and go home or remove the already ingested lollipop… but maybe next time we will.

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