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The Magic Cow

This time of year, kids from 1 to 92 are beginning to get antsy.

The variety of breakfast cereals presented at the table are Not. Quite. Right. (How come he gets Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and you never buy me the kind with berries?)

The piles of books on their shelves seem lackluster. (No. I don’t want to read Amelia Bedelia again. Booooring.)

Even clothes don’t seem to fit right. (Why didn’t we try these pants on at the store. They’re too tight, mom!)

Christmas is so close – yet so far away! And for children old enough to know how merry & bright the season can be, but not quite old enough to have a firm grasp on the concept of time, the closer we get to the lights, parades, family gathering (and of course the gifting) of the Christmas season, the harder it is to contain themselves. The result is an increase in sibling squabbles, a decrease in patience and an all-around feeling of holiday frazzle. Don’t even get me started on the never-ending discussion of the Hatchimal situation

The key to solving a 6 week dilemma of this nature is Parental Ingenuity (PI). Parental Ingenuity is the mad skill behind such thoughtful inventions as the Diaper Genie, taggie blankets and (just guessing here) ear plugs. At my house, just yesterday, PI was the inventive force behind the Magic Cowβ„’.

Thing 1 (she’s 8) and Thing 2 (he’s 6) joined me on the couch for some quality time (daddy was on call at work, so “quality time” this evening meant watching YouTube videos like this one together on the couch. You’re welcome.) Both kids wanted to pick the next video – badly enough to call names and swat at each other. After working all day, picking kids up from after care, dropping off the check for after care (pffffft), stopping to pick up milk, then heading home to make dinner – I didn’t have loads of extra energy to diffuse their petty argument.

Enter the Magic Cow.  On the coffee table in from of me – amidst school book orders, a pair of socks and other proof that we live here – sat a small plastic cow. Black & white. Cheap. Generic. Inexplicably boasting a neon yellow set of udders (?). And thus the Magic Cow was born.

I hit pause on the whose-turn-is-it argument and asked, “Who wants the Magic Cow?” Quiet attentiveness. Cease fire. Magic.

“I do! I want it mommy!

The bearer of the Magic Cow is a child who is most cooperative, most helpful, most patient & kind. He or she gets to “go first” that day (down the slide, choosing a song in the car, choosing whether we have strawberries or grapes with dinner.) Both kids have equal opportunity to earn the Magic Cow, and when it is time for the current Bearer of the Magic Cow to turn her over to mommy, I’ll give them a small memento in exchange for their good choices.

I don’t know if I’ve started a parenting revolution with this little idea, but the Magic Cow certainly revolutionized our evening. As a busy mom trying to give my all at work, at home and in my marriage – I’ll take any break I can catch.

How about you? Share your best contribution to Parental Ingenuity with the Black Hills Parent community using hashtag #PI. It takes a village, after all. And this week, my little village just needed a cow. 

by Liz Sagaser