I suspect that First Lady Michelle Obama wouldn’t approve of the way I’m motivating my teenage son these days. More importantly, though, my wife definitely doesn’t approve.
Both women are all about promoting healthy eating and exercise. Mrs. Obama does it through her national “Let’s Move” campaign, aimed particularly at children. And, although my wife doesn’t have a platform as big as the White House, she leads by example within our home here in Martinsburg.
She makes sure our kids see her eating fruits and vegetables and encourages them to make healthy choices. Plus, she is a workout machine. She rides her bicycle for miles each morning and puts in more miles walking our big dog Rodney in the evening. Just thinking about her daily routine exhausts me.
But all her efforts go tumbling off the treadmill when I’m trying to get our son to do the chores that I don’t want to do.
That’s because I’ve figured out the one thing he’d scale a mountain for — a hamburger.
Everyone has their price. Red meat is my son’s.
I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on this sooner. His love of ground beef shaped into a patty and grilled is legendary around our house.
Just the other day, he texted me pleading for a hamburger – imploring me “not to hold out” on him.
But before I caved, I got him to move the big mound of mulch my long-suffering but patient wife had been waiting for me to spread.
Scratch one thing off the “honey-do” list and I didn’t even have to lift a finger. All I did was promise a burger in exchange for some manual labor. (Okay, I admit he complained a little. But the thought of biting into a big, juicy hunk of meat was enough to motivate him to finish the job.)
Unfortunately, my wife has been quick to pick up on my strategy and has taken counter measures.
First, she has simply made the “honey-do” list even longer with specific chores for me and for the kids.
And instead of rewarding the kids for doing their chores, she threatens to withhold privileges.
Then there is grocery shopping, which isn’t exactly on her list of favorite things to do. But lately, she’s been going more often, dashing my hopes of bringing home chips and cookies to add to my secret stash. Instead, she arrives home with humus, yogurt and raisin bran in tow.
As for taking the kids out for burgers? If I even suggest we go out to dinner, she rushes home to cook something healthy.
But the other day was a long one. My wife had a late meeting, my son had worked outside for a good part of the day and my daughter had a late rehearsal for her dance recital this weekend. So when I offered to pick our daughter up, my wife agreed. She wouldn’t have if she had known what I had promised my son. As a reward for helping me in the yard, I told him we would go out for a burger after we got his sister.
Our daughter is not nearly as big an eater as her brother is and while we were basking in the glow of hamburger goodness, she got worried about her mom, who hadn’t joined us for dinner. She even made a point of saving one of her sliders for her.
When we arrived home, I told my wife there was an extra burger in the fridge. At first, she resisted. But it wasn’t long before I heard what I now know to be sounds of deep satisfaction coming from the kitchen.
That’s when my long-held conviction that my son was practically cloned from his mother was confirmed.
He apparently comes by his love of a good hamburger honestly and he doesn’t get it from my side of the family.