Our 5 Favorite Parenting Tricks for Complaining Kids

complaining

Sometimes, when faced with complaining kids at the end of a grueling work day (or even at the beginning),  you just need a quick answer that does not engage all your emotions. Like any quick trick, these tactics can be overused without wisdom,  but they can work great in a pinch or in the right circumstances. Here’s 5 of our favorite parenting tricks for complaining kids.

1. Me Too – We went out for popsicles Sunday afternoon and then walked around a local park.  Pretty soon one of my kids was “sooooo thirsty.” A novice parent might try to console their child with assurances – nay – promises that we’ll get water very soon. That parent is a sitting duck. There is no consoling a child 6yrs or younger who is thirsty, hungry, tired, hot or cold.  However, “me too” works like a diversionary mind-meld, forcing the child into a universe that includes someone else.

2. Okay With Me – Usually, if my kid is sad or mad or doesn’t like so-and-so, I’m going to want to hear about it and help them talk it out… but sometimes their complaining can distract from the bigger family picture, and it needs to be nipped in the bud. You don’t like your toothpaste? You are mad at your sister? That’s ok with me, let’s keep moving.  Used wisely, this tactic can short-circuit your child’s brain just long enough to buy you the time you need to use the bathroom.

3. Boring = Choring – This one is probably self explanatory, but we invented the word choring in response to the word boring. If you are bored, you find something to do. If you say you are bored, we will immediately put you in charge of putting away laundry, loading the dishwasher or scooping up the dog poop in the back yard.

4. The Counselor – Sometimes, the complaining is legitimate, but our kids don’t really need advice. Sometimes they just want to speak and feel heard. Time to engage counselor-speak of “repeat what you just heard.” You know it when you see it…

kid – “I’m tired of  my art teacher.”

parent – “Wow – you seem tired of your art teacher.”

kid – “Yeah – all these projects are the same and I wish I had my old art teacher again.”

parent – “hmmmm”

kid – “remember all the cool stuff we did last year? Like sush and such and so and so – you get the idea…

parent – “I guess you miss your old art class.”

You know the drill.  Don’t feel bad for not chasing every emotional rabbit trail they open up.  Sometimes The Counselor is all they really need.

5. The Surprise Treat – This one is my favorite. I keep a stash of treats behind the coffee in our kitchen cabinet. Right now there’s a half-empty box of Reese’s Pieces and some small peanut butter cups up there.  Now, as a rule, we don’t do sweets during the week.  Except for things like halloween and chocolate easter bunnies, we save candy and chocolates and dessert for weekends.  So when, after some sustained grabble gurt (complaining), I surprise the little griper with a handful of candy coated awesome, it can really turn things around.

I hope you have enjoyed these 5 quick parenting tips. For more Slugs & Bugs parenting nuggets, click on the word “Parenting” in our categories (up and to the right – in blue).

If you haven’t heard, theres a new ALL SCRIPTURE Slugs & Bugs CD called “Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs” – still available for a limited time exclusively at the Rabbit Room. The official release to iTunes will be later this Summer. 

Mexican Rhapsody (Lyrics)

We’re working on putting together a new Slugs & Bugs website right now, with a launch sometime in January.  That website will have many cool new features, the coolest of which will be – it won’t take long to open.

I could fry an egg in the time it takes the current Slugs & Bugs website to open.  Don’t go there.  You will grow older.

But one of the other cool features of the new website will be a “songs” page that gives the lyrics and chords to each of the songs. Incidentally, if any of you have any cool ideas for a Slugs & Bugs website, I’d LOVE to hear them asap.

I tell you all this because today’s post is a response to multiple requests for lyrics to Mexican Rhapsody.  All the lyrics are printed in the CD jacket of Slugs & Bugs Under Where? (affectionately known as “the green CD”), but they do not come with a digital download.  So, for your listening while reading pleasure, here’s them lyrics.

(Cheese dip, cheese dip)
(Cheese dip, cheese dip)
Chips and salsa, chips and salsa
Gee, I wanna chicken enchilada
Gee, I wanna chicken enchilada
Guacamole, guacamole
Put it on my chicken chimichanga
Put it on my chicken chimichangaSteak fajita hold the sour cream
Jalepeño peppers on my nachos!
Rice and beans, a bit of shredded cheese
And some pico de gallo, please
what does “pico de gallo” mean?Beak of the rooster
Beak of the rooster
Sounds kinda pointy!
I don’t want to eat that!

Rooster rooster rooster
Youre the cock-a-doodle-dooster
Of the walk-a-doodle-dooster don’t you know

Keep up that cock-a-doodle keeping
While the neighborhood is sleeping
And they’re gonna turn your beak into some pico de gallo!

Pico de gallo
Fly rooster fly oh

Oh me oh my
Can roosters even fly?
Yes! But not very far.

(Cheese dip, cheese dip)
(Cheese dip, cheese dip)
Taco salad, taco salad
In a crunchy bowl of corn tortilla
How I love a bowl that you can eat-a!
Steak fajita hold the sour cream
Jalepeño peppers on my nachos!
Huevos burrito, special number five
Huevos! Huevos! What are those?
Huevos! Huevos! What are those?Eggs! Scrambled eggs!
Grade A eggs!
Huevos are eggs!
Huevos are eggs!
…Huevos are eggs!
To buy Slugs & Bugs Under Where? which contains “Mexican Rhapsody,” visit the Slugs & Bugs Online Store

The Wagon / Ben Day!

PLAY: The Wagon

At the Goodgame’s, today is Ben Day.  Two years ago today, I arrived home from Ethiopia with my father and my brand new son.  Last night we celebrated early by going to “The Muppets” (what a wonderful, spectacular movie, by the way).  And tonight we will go to “chicken nuggets” which means Chik-fil-a in Brentwood.

Riding in the wagon was one of the first fun things I did outside with Ben.  He came home when he was two and he still wasn’t very sturdy on his feet. It was December in Nashville, so I would bundle us up in bright lumpy clothes and pull him up and down the driveway while he giggled and gazed around. And sometimes we would sing.

Parents are always telling me about little songs they make up with their children as they work or play around the house, and that’s exactly how The Wagon was born.  At least 5 different versions existed before we settled on the melody, but Ben and I started singing about riding in the wagon on some cold Winter day in 2009.
In hindsight I realized the melody had landed somewhere between Tiger and Tractor, Tractor, but it wasn’t so close as to worry me.  After that, I didn’t come up with the swing set verse until I started thinking about a new recording. And since there are only two verses, I thought it would be fun to get creative with a vocal counterpoint arrangement.
When I was a young kid, vocal groups like The Oak Ridge Boys and Gatlin Brothers spun on the record player on the weekends, and then in high school I was smitten by the Doobie Brothers monster hit, Black Water.  The vocal jam at the end of that song burrowed into my soul and now I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to spice up a song with some weaving vocals (see the end of Bears).

Jeff Taylor played keys on this song, and did a masterful job building the song slowly and steadily.  But The Wagon really started rolling when the horn players came in.  Musically, this may be my favorite song on the record.  I haven’t been around New Orleans counterpoint horn playing very much, but I’ve always loved it.  I don’t know why, but to me, this kind of music feels like hard won joy; like joy that’s seen trouble and pain and lived to tell about it and rejoice.

And finally, the lyrics to The Wagon are so simple and sweet, I knew it needed a nudge, nudge and a wink, wink.  I came up with the Dragon / Spaceship verse ideas for AP,  and in the studio he reminded me of the “rule of three” that always makes things funnier and he came up with the Hippo idea – which was perfect. Hippos are hilarious any way you look at them, unless you’re looking at them from inside their mouth.
Happy Ben Day everyone!

Behind the Song: Mexican Rhapsody

PLAY: Mexican Rhapsody

Aedan and Jesse Peterson are Andrew’s shining sons, and they are hilarious, really great kids and I’ve known them since Jesse was in a baby carrier. They are both wildly gifted; at 13 Aedan is already a skillful illustrator and painter, and when Jesse was 11 he won first prize in a state wide building competition having created a lego Empire State Building complete with a menacing King Kong.  But from my perspective, the best thing about the Peterson boys is their kindness.  They are a good bit older than my 2 boys, and yet they always include them, always have grace for them, and relentlessly extend friendship when other older boys might want the smaller kids to leave them alone.  I will always love them for that.

And I will always love them for this: Legend has it, the Peterson family was on their way to Las Palmas in Hickory Hollow when, inspired by hunger and melody, Aedan began to sing… “Cheese dip, cheese dip, cheese dip, cheese dip.” and maybe there was something in the air conditioning of the Peterson’s old Subaru, but almost immediately Jesse joined in, “Chips and salsa….. chips and salsa!” And Mexican Rhapsody was born. To hear Andrew tell it, the car filled with laughter and joyful bewilderment at the spontaneous composition and they stretched it another line or two until it ascended into incoherent silliness.

AP and I were writing Silly Songs for VeggieTales at the time, and he brought me this mexican food song idea, which of course I loved.  Sitting at the Peterson’s old baby grand, we worked out the melody and lyrics to the first half of the song, and somehow stumbled on the idea of making separate sections a-la Bohemian Rhapsody. We parted that day intending to work on sections separately and then try to cobble them together and see what would happen.

Around that time my travels around the country had brought me to a restaurant called “Cock of the Walk”.  I had no idea what that meant. (Incidentally, it refers to a rooster and his dominion). Not long after that, SNL’s “more cowbell” sketch with Will Ferrell was sweeping the nation, and I noticed legendary producer “Bruce Dickenson” (played memorably by Christopher Walken) referring to himself as, “The cock of the walk, baby.”

Also around that time, I learned that “pico de gallo” meant “beak of the rooster” in Spanish.  We all want to make the most of the opportunities life brings, and this mexican food song provided the perfect opportunity to exploit this new and profound knowledge. Andrew and I sent ideas back and forth to finish the song, and then we scheduled a meeting with VeggieTales .

They liked it OK, but one of them pulled up a youtube clip of a low-budget commercial that had a mexican food song in it.  They didn’t want to be seen as potentially copying anything, so they sent us back to the drawing board (lucky for me).

Fast-forward to the studio this Fall, and the ingredients of this song came together like Ron Block’s mango guacamole.  First came piano, bass and drums, and then AP and I sang (which was, hilarious). Somewhere in there, Ken Lewis added flavor with castanets, but for me, the real magic of Mexican Rhapsody comes out of Stuart Duncan’s violin.  When his blistering cadenza opens the song, I just know something awesome is about to happen.   And in the middle “rooster” section, he’s playing the old fiddle tune “Chicken Reel” underneath our vocal tom-foolery. I say, I say, I say, if I’m not mistaken that was featured from time to time in the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.

If you want to hear some more stunning music from Stuart’s violin, check out his new CD with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile titled Goat Rodeo.  At the link below from NPR, forward to 3:50 – this piece is incredible.

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=142520794&m=142608987

Stuart digs in with the rhythm section and articulates with such skill and feeling, it makes the ridiculous song even funnier.  I am so proud to get to present such startlingly good musicianship to unsuspecting kids and parents as they wind through their lives in minivans across the country.

To purchase the music, visit the Slugs & Bugs Online Store