Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Wicked Witch

I have always been a reader. Not a fussy, literature-only kind of reader, either. If books were food, I'd be a binger. I'll read almost anything. For example, my brother-in-law owns a car wash, and I will happily devour his copy of the national car wash magazine (who knew there was one?). Or, I'll joyously read my husband's copy of HR Today, despite having no interest whatsoever in human resources. If something that I can read is laying around, I'll pick it up and read it. Not just a few pages, either. I'll read the whole thing.

The other day Rhett found me devouring Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, which is basically written for a nine-year old. I wish I could say that I was reading it out loud to my children, but no, they were all tucked safely in bed, and I was pleasure reading a nine-year old's book.

Rhett said, "Hey, how's that kid's book coming?"

I grunted in reply. Another thing about me, is that I don't really hear you if I'm reading. I'm that absorbed, even if it's just about car washes.

Actually Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was quite helpful. For those of you who don't pleasure read children's books, or don't remember it from your own childhood, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is her town's version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Children love her because she understands them, and she understands how to help them behave well. Each chapter involves a mother calling for help from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle with one of her children's awful behaviors. Hubert Prentiss, for example, learns to pick up his toys, because Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle advises his mother to leave him alone for several days until his toys are so messy that he can't get out of his room and is nearly dying of hunger. Then Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle brings all the children by his room in a parade on their way to the circus, and Hubert cleans his entire room so that he can go with them. Hmmm. Somehow that sounds more like child abuse than good parenting.

Let's try again. For example, little Patsy doesn't like to take baths. So her mother phones up Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle who advises her to just let poor Patsy get as dirty as she wants. When she is absolutely filthy, the mother sneaks in to her room in the middle of the night and plants radishes on her daughter. Eventually little Patsy can't talk at all because her mouth is so encrusted with filth, and she decides to finally take a bath on the day that her mother starts pulling out the radishes, which apparently hurt when they are picked. Once again, I find that CPS would probably not smile on this parenting technique. However, on the upside, the family does have radishes for dinner that evening.

Anyhow. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle inspired me. Now I know all of you have children who love to clean up, who jump out of bed and make the bed immediately. I know your children all pick up their toys without asking. I know your children love to fold their clothes and clear their plates. But my children? Not so much.

So, I stole from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Her first experience with "curing" children's behavioral issues involved a little girl who hated to wash dishes.

"Oh, my!" said Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, "I just wish I had more dishes to wash. I pretend that if I don't get all the dishes done before the wicked witch comes that she will throw me into the dungeon!" Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the little girl proceed to wash all of the dishes and then Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle leaves the room and comes back dressed as a wicked witch.

"I WISH I COULD HAVE PUT YOU IN THE DUNGEON!" she roars, "But these dishes are PERFECTLY CLEAN! But there will come a day when I will LOCK YOU UP FOREVER!" The little girl is delighted, and ever after, she washes dishes with a joie de vivre that would be enviable in an adult. Job well done, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle!

This morning, I said to my kids, "Oh, no! A wicked witch is coming in FIVE minutes to see if your rooms are perfectly CLEAN! We'd better hurry and get them cleaned or she will throw you in the dungeon!"

They actually cleaned furiously, although little Spe would come to me occasionally and moan piteously, "But I too 'tared, Mama!" He was a little nervous about the whole wicked witch thing.

"Hurry! The wicked witch will be here soon!" I am nothing if not sympathetic.

Well, apparently the wicked witch looked a lot like me with a brown woolly sweater draped over her head. I'm sure it's coincidental, however. The kids' rooms were spotless. Then they wanted the wicked witch to come and inspect the toy room, the TV room, the living room, and the kitchen.

The wicked witch was very tired after all that inspecting (and cleaning). But I must say, sometimes it pays to read books that were written for a nine-year old, even if it's just because it gets my house cleaned up.


Carla said...

Amazingly enough, some of these children will be wonderfully neat and tidy when they are grown. For some,this neatness habit develops at school. Their roommates are utterly pigs in a sty, and so it falls upon one or two to clean the bathroom, empty the trash, hide their clean kitchen utensils, etc.
And they stay this way when they come home to roost between semesters. Well, except for hiding the utensils; totally unnecessary at home. :)
It would be nice if one's children could develop this lovely habit at home while Mother could enjoy it, but that is rarely the case. But better late than never.

monkie mama said...

Heidi, you are quite hilarious girl! I keep cracking up at your comments on Leisha's blog and had to mosey over and check yours out for myself. I am so not disappointed and will be a faithful blog reader from now on--scouts honor! Keep up the good work!

D said...

I LOVE Mrs. Piggle Wiggle! When Kaden is old enough I will have to try the wicked witch on him. He is good about picking up toys at other people's houses (at least so they tell me). But never in the presence of his mama. He already tells me NO! when I ask him to pick up and he's not even two yet. I have to bribe him with whatever we are doing next and he still tries to be rebellious.

Sue said...

I love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I've read a few of them to my kids. I could never actually TRY them though - I'd probably traumatize them for years. They're pretty wussy.

Jen said...

I love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, too, though I haven't enjoyed her antics for many years. I need to check her out at the local library again.

Jill said...

I've done the thing where you just let the room get as messy as it can, and THEY DON'T CARE.
Especially my 12yo. I'm not sure how he finds his way out each day.
Repeat after me;
"I'm only reading this book because I want to be familiar with what my children are reading"
Not that I've ever been caught reading a children's book and had to use that line or anything...............

Charlie said...

Hi. Thanks for your comment. I know how you feel. I'm a Lutheran... I just lost all hope on the GOP these last years... We'll see how it goes. :)

Leisha said...

Heidi, this should be a weekly segment entitled "Mothering 101: Heidi Style" The Wicked Witch is coming soon, gotta run and do the dishes!

Karen said...

We LOOOOVE Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle too.

Dan said...

True, Heidi doesn't listen when she is reading. Josh and I used to bug the heck out of her trying to get some crazy reaction. Why don't you write a bloq about playing super mario bros. 2 and producing the longest you know what in the world? I still have never heard its equal. Is this bloq public?