Tuesday, August 22

Discipline is a Dirty Word

Hero Guy and I have been attempting to teach our kids some principals of proper money management. To do this, we have allotted an allowance of sorts to our kids each week. In typical kid-fashion, we have one saver and one spender. Little Chic faithfully saves her money, forgoing lots of cute toys, candy and other trinkets to save until she finds something she totally loves. As a result, her bank is usually well-stocked. Brainy Boy on the other hand, has a hard time not running to the Dollar Store, CVS or the gas station to buy some type of candy, soda, gum or other soon-to-be forgotten treasure of the moment. As luck would have it, the only time he has any significant dollar amount is when I've forgotten to fork over his allowance for a week, and he gets double. Our only requirement is that they have to give 10% of what they earn, and the rest is theirs to spend or save as they see fit.

On our recent trip to the Adirondacks, Brainy Boy found a musket he absolutely was dying to have. We had forced some savings habits upon him before we left and he had a grand total of $17 to spend on vacation. Little Chic had $43. Since Brainy Boy's funds were too short, Little Chic offered to 'lend' him the money to buy the $35 musket since we wouldn't be able to find one around home. Dad intervened and worked a deal with Brainy Boy--all his savings plus some serious weeding of the four flower beds at home would get him the gun. Good attitudes and treating his sister nicely were also part of the deal. He readily agreed, forked over his portion of the money and walked out with the gun. He played with it continuously throughout our camping trip while Hero Guy and Yours Truly reminded him of the payoff to be done at home.

Now I do require my children to pick up after themselves, keep their rooms tidy, put their clothes in the hamper and such, but I do not excel in enforcing lots of chores around the house. Since I'm home while the kids are at school, much of what needs to be done is completed while they are away. Thus, the prospect of spending several hours outside in the buggy warm weather pulling weeds was not a familiar one to Brainy Boy. And since Hero Guy would be at work while the task was being completed, enforcement fell to me. Have I ever mentioned that a particular pet peeve of mine is having to enforce consequences that Hero Guy dishes out?! But, I digress.

So yesterday, after being home from camping for an entire week and having exactly no repayment for the toy yet, Hero Guy declared the day had come to get the weeding completed. Brainy Boy had a leisurely morning, waiting until the last possible moment when I finally shooed him outside to get started on his work. I was prepared for an afternoon of prodding, threatening and locking all the doors leading inside. But to my surprise, the only stalling was to ask just exactly how thorough did we expect him to be? Did he have to pull up absolutely anything that was green? What about the things that had prickers on them? Oh, and would I mind getting him some bug spray?

I was ashamed to admit that I expected less. My little guy spent a total of 4-5 hours outside, nonstop (even skipping dinner on his own) to complete the task, without one complaint and even running inside when he was finished to drag Hero Guy and me out to see what he had accomplished. On his own, he finished the job by doing a bonus flower bed that we didn't require, saying that he'd really gotten his technique down, and he could have it done in a flash.

Our purpose in giving him the job was to make him sorry that he'd asked to borrow money in the first place. I'm hoping that we did accomplish that. But the bonus was that he went to bed thoroughly pleased with himself at a job well done--a difficult one at that. My bonus was seeing his self-satisfaction at getting a hard job done, and I'm going to try to build that in to our routine a little more often. I will say that he was a filthy kid when he came in, and it was a good thing too--it kept him occupied soaking in the tub while Hero Guy and I got the rodent out of the house. But that's another story.

4 of Your THINKS:

mary ellen said...

Eeek a mouse I presume - yuck! At least you helped, I would have been no help at all. Looking forward to that story

Good for Eric, that's awesome. I hope to teach my kids the value of hard work, I'm sooo glad my parents did that for me. As my friend Jan, mother of five says, "I highly believe in child labor!" She is half kidding, her kids play plenty, but I understand what she is saying and I plan to do the same.

Rochelle said...

Wow. Good for you Jen. That is a hard job for both of you...the weeding & the enforcing...but it sounds like it turned out well.

Debbie said...

Even children need to feel the satisfaction of a job well done. His debt is paid in full and he can be proud of his hard work and brand new toy.

Thad said...

James is already headed down the wrong path. He's become an indentured servant to Mary Kay Ebbers! He had an urge to be the next proud owner of Matt's old electric guitar and Mary Kay came up with a very good idea. She told him that he could earn the guitar by working for her around the Pumpelly House! He earns $7/ hour (I might be asking for a job there, too) and they agreed that the guitar was worth $50. So, now when he goes to visit Matt, he will have to complete his "chores" before he can play. Mary Kay is a smart lady and i think that I'll implement this strategy at my own house. I'm not so sure about the rates, though.