There is a parenting technique that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. It is called “The Bulging Eyes.”
There comes a time when the advice from the parenting books just isn’t cutting it; a time when being “nice about it” just ain’t working; a time when repeating yourself one more time will cause your head to explode from the seething anger volcano that you’ve been trying to keep dormant. At that moment, The Bulging Eyes can save the day.
Speaking from experience, I used this technique yesterday. Noble and his buddy Will were toward the end of their playdate at our house. His mom was gonna pick him up in 30 minutes. Usually as the playdate nears the end, the kids seemingly sneak off to do cocaine or drink a couple red bulls or something because their energy kicks up 10 notches. This happened about the same time I put Alistair down for his nap. Now we don’t live in a 10 bedroom mansion, so when I say Alistair is down for his nap, I mean that Alistair is 15-30 feet away from us at any given time. So my general rule is that when Alistair is asleep, please feel free to have as much fun as you want…..just shut the hell up.
Apparently 3-4 year olds have a hard time keeping this information at the forefront. I can literally see the information enter their ear and then float out the other ear as if it were a vapor.
“Guys, keep it down, Alistair is asleep.”
“Oh, ok”, and then they quietly walk 5 steps before Noble roars at Will, Will shrieks, and they run giggling into the room. Chaos ensues.
I just told them to be quiet! I said it nicely!
I repeated this pattern of telling them in a nice, by the book, fashion to be quiet. I tried, “Guys I need you to listen to my words.” and “Alistair is asleep guys, guys. GUYS! Hey, look at me please! Guys. Guys. Put your toys down, and listen up!” None of it was working. So on the fourth attempt, when they went running across the house screaming because one of them was a yeti and the other was apparently the yeti’s lunch, I decided to pull out the big guns: The Bulging Eyes
In the loudest whisper I could muster, which I can only imagine how silly it looks to be irate and whispering, I told them to get their butts into Noble’s room. “NOW!” Once inside, I bulged my eyes as wide as they could go. I tried to get my eyelids to touch my brain, that’s how far back I was pushing them. Like a superhero who finally learned his superpower, I connected my bulging eyes to the children and, judging by the looks on their faces, my eyes were sucking their souls from their body. They were scared.
All I said was, “Be quiet or there will be consequences.” I think it had something to do with the power of my eyeballs. Maybe it’s a power like Michael J. Fox had in Teen Wolf, when his eyes turned red at the convenience store. I’m not sure. But I can tell you this: it worked. They immediately became quiet, and when I walked out of the room, they started playing a different game, but they did it quietly. All thanks to The Bulging Eyes.
Later on that night Noble told me he doesn’t like it when I’m angry and yell. And in my heart, the place where love for my child pours like Niagra Falls, I thought, good. “I don’t like it either, bud. So next time remember to listen the first time, ok?” (I say first time because I’m a dreamer. Really, if he listened the second time, I’d be totally cool with it, too.)
I'd be scared, too, if this face came at me. Check out those deep cups!