Snacks and iPhones: Bad Bribes?

Mason and I met up with three other LIC Mamas and their tots yesterday for an afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History. All of the kids are Mason’s age, and we thought they would enjoy the butterfly exhibit–a slice of the tropics indoors where butterflies flit around and sometimes land on your finger. It’s absolutely gorgeous and Mason stood in the middle of the packed room with his arms stretched up, head tipped all the way back, like he was trying to catch one. You’re not supposed to actually touch the butterflies so I prayed they’d stay out of Mason’s reach. I could picture him squeezing one to death, or trying to bite it. Can you imagine? I can just see the headline in the Post, with our mug shots side by side: Toddler Charged in Butterfly Murder, Negligent Mother to Blame.

Then Kerry, Sem, and I lost our minds (um, I mean got really brave) and decided to take them to a show at the planetarium. Shiri, the sane one, opted out. As I was chasing Mason around in the lobby before the show began, I remember thinking she probably made the right decision. How in the world was I going to get him to sit still for the show?

Truth is, I was being completely selfish. I love the planetarium. Love it–and I wanted to see the show, I hadn’t been to a planetarium in ages. And wouldn’t Mason love all the lights and sound? Once inside, we headed for the back and hoped for the best.

The show started almost immediately. From the get-go, Sem’s daughter was angelic. Mason? Not so much. About five minutes into the show, Mason started to blow kisses to the stars overhead. Problem is, he blows kisses loudly–MMMMMMMMMWAP!!! And he never does just one. He does it over and over and over. Which is really cute–unless you’re in a planetarium trying to watch a show. I kept shushing him and praying he would stop. Then an usher walked over and told me that if I couldn’t keep “the child” quiet, we’d have to leave. Kerry, who is always prepared for anything, fished around her bag and handed me a container of snacks (of course I left Mason’s grahams in the stroller, which was parked outside). I could feel that usher glaring at me. Mason took the snacks, settled back in my lap, and munched away for about 15 minutes. When he started to squirm again, I handed him my iPhone, and he sat there playing with my phone until the show was almost over. It wasn’t pretty but we (mostly) made it.

Our museum trip turned out to be awesome (and exhausting). If you live in NYC, or you’re planning on visiting, consider checking out the butterflies and the planetarium, if your kid can last through the show!

Do you bribe your kids with snacks and/or gadgets they’re normally not allowed to play with to keep them quiet? Or do you think that bribes only teach them to expect a special treat every time they’re supposed to behave?

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  1. by Jane

    On March 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I took my son to the Museum once to see the dinosaurs. I never knew there was the butterfly exhibit and the show. Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely take my son there next time.

  2. by Jaime

    On March 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I make sure I always have one of our ipads with me, and when my 10 month old son starts to get unruly in public I turn on one of the fisher-price apps and that calms him down for a while. I also have a diaper bag full of toys and give him a new one every time he gets grumpy. The ipad is usually the last resort.