Thursday evening I glare at a plastic McDonald’s cup lid lying in our driveway—a lid that I’d left there for a couple of days, waiting for one of the kids to have an attack of conscience and pick it up—and an idea begins to brew.

Minutes later I call the kids together at the dining room table and state, “I’ve picked something in or around the house that needs taken care of. Whoever does it will get a surprise. I haven’t decided what it will be.”

Immediately I get questions: Does it need thrown away or fixed? Can we have a clue?

I have no intention of giving hints. I would rather they pick up a lot of things and accidentally get it right than hone in quickly on the one.

My mama didn’t raise no fools.

The lid still sits there Friday afternoon when we load up for church directory pictures (in their defense, I kept them inside and clean all day). Still there on Saturday afternoon, too.

This morning my husband walks in from herding kids into the cars for church and whispers, “The lid isn’t there.”

I march outside, stick my head in the car and demand, “Who picked up the plastic lid in the driveway?”

Confused, my 11-year-old daughter stammers, “I did, I think.”

“A McDonald’s cup lid? Laying over there?”


“What did you do with it?”

“Threw it away,” she fidgets nervously.

“You’re the winner!”

Relief floods her face and she beams and laughs.

Now I must pick a prize, but my modus operandi is usually a trip to McDonald’s (where hopefully we won’t acquire another plastic lid for the drive) for ice cream sundaes.

If my husband and I had placed bets, I would have put money that this daughter would be least likely to randomly pick up trash that she didn’t leave.

I’ll definitely use this trick again: create a game, a challenge, a prize to lure trick convince the kids to do something that needs to be done. And . . . the winner and I both get ice cream in the process.

I’d call that win-win.

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