This usually works, as most of the time he is faking an illness to get out of doing something like clean his room or take out the garbage. So god forbid one day his spleen actually bursts out of his skin, like in that Alien movie, because I probably won't believe him. "Put your spleen back inside your body right now or I'll put it in the garbage disposal - I swear to god!" I would yell. "Then you won't have any spleen at all and the kids will make fun of you and call you 'Spleen-less!' Then you'll wish you hadn't have let it pop out of your body like that!"
What can I say? I'm just not the motherly type. In lieu of a sensitive, caring approach to children which includes bribing them with freshly-baked cookies and respecting their feelings, I opt for the more direct, do-it-or-else approach which includes threats to shave their eyebrows off while they sleep - or better yet, just one eyebrow so they will be forced to do the other one themselves or look even more ridiculous.
You see, in my experience, when you show children any kind of kindness or weakness, they cut you open and laugh over your bleeding corpse. That's their job really - to take as little leeway as possible and stretch it to an entire cross-country trek of leeway, until they have stomped all over the rules and forced you to retreat to your locked bathroom with a bottle of vodka.
The problem with today's society is that many parents have forgotten the true nature of children - which is to lie and cheat and push your buttons until you want to reach inside your uterus and tie your own tubes together for fear of having another one. Parents instead prefer to think that their children are "different" somehow because they possess their DNA and therefore are innocent and pure. What a load of crap.
When I was a kid, I lied to my mom about where I was going, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with. And I was a "GOOD ONE." I got straight A's, never had sex until college, and didn't do drugs. Yet I still was a sneaky, deceptive little bitch. Because that is what god makes every child out to be, as a test for adults on whether they can obey the 10 commandments (especially the "thou shall not kill" one, which is always tricky) and as built-in population control.
Parents also are afraid to be tough on their kids anymore. Society has made it wrong to yell, wrong to spank, wrong to punish. Now I'm certainly not an advocate of beating kids or locking them in cages (except if you really, really can't find a babysitter), but I'm also not an advocate of taking all the power away from parents to enforce rules, either. Someone's got to be in charge, after all, and if parents aren't allowed to be, then the kids are. And that's NEVER a good idea. Have you read "Lord of the Flies?"
Parents also just don't want to be mean to their children. They worry that if they don't give their kids everything they want and let them do everything they wish, little Suzy or little Johnny will hate them. But what they seem to forget is that they can do all those things and their kids will probably hate them anyway. That's what the whole parent-child relationship is about. Doing everything for your kids and them still being ungrateful little bastards.
As a result, parents have thrown out their best parenting tool. And no, it isn't communication. It isn't love, either. And it isn't understanding. That's all touchy feely crap they discuss on Oprah and write about in self-help books, but that actually doesn't DO anything to get your child to behave.
No, the best parenting tool is FEAR. Fear is the only way you can truly nip bad behavior in the bud before it happens, or enforce the rules when nothing else seems to work. It's what my entire relationship with my step-son is based on. And I have to tell you - IT WORKS.
I've heard my step-son talk to his mother, and other people for that matter, with a total lack of respect - the typical "adults are so stupid" tone that every teenager in America adopts about the same time they start growing armpit hair. Yet he does not do this with me. Why? Because he fears me. He knows that if he treats me with disrespect, I'll sneak into his room and put itching powder in his bed. Or I'll tell all his friends that he likes to wear girl's underwear.
Would I REALLY do these things? Maybe. But it really doesn't matter. He BELIEVES I will do these things - and that's enough. I have ingrained in his brain over the years that no matter how big he gets, or how strong he gets, I will ALWAYS have the upper hand because I will ALWAYS be meaner. And he believes me. Because every now and then I will let him into my sick mind of tricks and pull out one of my ideas on child behavior techniques. And he immediately gets so scared I never have to really DO anything. Just the thought alone is enough to make him behave. And sometimes pee the bed.
It's gotten to be so effective, that even when I'm NOT trying to intimidate him with fear, he is still scared. For example, one summer my step-son had a habit of peeing in our hot tub when he was in it with his friends. He thought it was funny, and kept doing it even though I told him not to. So I had a conversation with him.
"That's just gross," I told him. "Peeing in a hot tub other people use is just like peeing directly on them. How would you like me to pee on you?"
This grabbed his attention as he turned sheet-white and began shouting and crying at me "Don't pee on me! I promise not to do it again! Just don't pee on me!" The fact that he thought I would actually pee on him to prove my point is a tribute to my parenting skills, I believe. He does not put ANYTHING past me, and believes no threat I make is an idle one - even public urination.
I'm telling you, the world would be a much better place if parents stopped fearing their children, and instead made their children fear them a little bit. At least maybe I could sit at a restaurant and not have a kid running around my table and screaming at the top of his lungs as he tried to stab me with a fork.
Parents need to stop worrying about what their kids think of them, and what others think of them, and do their fucking job, which is to have their kid grow up into an adult that hopefully doesn't pee in the hot tub or talk to others with disrespect.
I know with time, my step-son will understand that I was trying to do my job the best I could. Hopefully, his eyebrows will have grown back by then, too.