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2009-05-21 digital edition

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2009-05-21 / Community News

"The Look"

When I was a kid, my mom had a secret weapon for getting her children to behave. The weapon was silent. It was invisible. And it got results.

We dubbed this weapon "The Look." This weapon promised retribution if we didn't respond to it and it worked so well that I have developed my own "Look" after many years of practice.

For some reason, kids think that it's okay to goof off when a parent isn't watching. There is always one kid, however, that plays the Lookout. In our case, it's my daughter.

Here's the scenario: We are at a gathering with lots of people. I don't have time to follow my kids around and keep them out of the punch bowl or prevent them from double-dipping, so I have to hope that what I've already taught them will somehow be obeyed. At some point, my children erupt into a spontaneous game of tag, running in circles around the dessert table. I am across the room, but my daughter is the Lookout and looks up from their mischief every 5 seconds to see if I'm watching.

This means that she knows they are breaking a rule, but, hey, she must run from whoever is chasing her. That's another kind of rule. So it's not really her fault.

I hear the commotion from across the room. Catching my daughter's eye, I give her "The Look." She stops in her tracks, the little one plows right into her, and the older one takes one more lap around the dessert table before he realizes nobody is running from him. My daughter points to me and all eyes follow to intercept "The Look" that I am still broadcasting to my errant flock. And. my work is done. They are temporarily cowed and the dessert table will remain upright for the foreseeable future.

Potent and powerful, no weapon in a mom's arsenal is as effective as "The Look" - even at a distance.

I have other "Looks" that my children have learned to interpret as well. There is one that is guaranteed to make a little liar start babbling excuses.

"Did you eat your broccoli?" "Yeth."

*The Look* "Well, I didn't exactly. the cat was hungry and. so I gave it.

*The Look* "Um. I saved it for later?"

*The Look*

"I accidentally. *The Look*. I pushed it. on the floor. Now I can't eat it, right?"

Of course, there are other Looks that simply convey my utter bewilderment. Kids do that to a parent. No matter how much experience one has, kids always confound you with astounding remarks like:

"I just got awarded the Staff of Life and now I'm going to conquer the world!"

I give him The Look to buy myself some time as I try to work through this amazing statement.

So, he's excited about reaching puberty? No, no, that's not really an event as much as it is a process. The Staff of Life, huh?

Ah, got it! A video game! That's the only realm where something like this can reasonably occur. Wait a minute! It's not the weekend! Video games are only to be played on the weekend. A rule has been broken!

*The Look*

And this is where I spout one of those unreasonable remarks that most parents are famous for:

"Staff of Life or not, you're going to have to wait until Saturday to conquer the world."

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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