This morning Edward looked at his sticker chart.
"I have two stickers,"' he announced.
"But I need ten stickers and I get a special present," he continued.
"That's right," I said. "No tantrums and you'll get more stickers. Like today! At preschool! When I leave you'll say goodbye and I'll say goodbye and I'll give you a kiss and you'll find a toy to play with and then you'll get another sticker!
Edward studied the chart and said, "I need eight more stickers. Eight more stickers and I'll get a special present."
"Yes," I said, "two plus eight is ten. You have two so after you get eight more you will have ten stickers."
"I want eight stickers," said Edward.
"Well, sure, if you... "
"I want eight stickers!" repeated Edward
"Yes, right, if you don't start..."
"I WANT EIGHT STICKERS! I WAAAAAAANT EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!" and he proceeded to become completely unglued, emitting sounds that could only be heard by dolphins in distant seas.
By the time Patrick entered the kitchen a few minutes later I had gone back to making lunches and Edward was a writhing, incoherent, shrieky heap on the floor.
Patrick looked at Edward and then looked at me. I shrugged.
"Edward!" Patrick said. Edward looked up.
"Take a deep breath!" Edward gulped.
"No one will ever be able to understand you or help you if you scream like that. Now use your words. What do you want?"
"I. Waaaaan-tuh. Eigh-tuh. TICKERS!"
"You mean the stickers for your smile chart?" Patrick asked.
"Yes," said Edward and then, having been reminded of his grievance, he started screaming again.
Patrick looked around the kitchen as if he expected to find hidden cameras somewhere and then he looked at me again.
"Edward is throwing a tantrum because he wants to put stickers on the chart that you created to try to get him not to throw so many tantrums?"
"Well that's..." Patrick started and then he smiled. "Wait," he said, "this is irony, isn't it?"
Meanwhile Caroline accepted the chart that I had made for her and admired my color choices. She asked about the boxes and I explained that she could earn stickers for exemplary behavior and that when she had accumulated ten stickers she would be able to get a little present of some kind. She smiled at me and said she understood perfectly.
We have no witnesses for the next part but it seems fairly obvious that after I left the room she got a dining room chair and pulled it over to the kitchen counter. Then she climbed up onto the counter and opened the cupboard where I keep the craft supplies. After rummaging around in a couple of shoeboxes she found what she wanted and made some changes to her chart.
Five minutes later she handed me back the chart which now had ten stickers affixed to it, one for each box.
"There," Caroline said, "I have ten stickers. Now let's go get me a present."
Apparently I can't parent my way out of a wet paper bag.