Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Learning a Lesson the Hard Way

Jonathan, my 9-year-old, is on a quest this week. He wants to earn $15 in addition to his regular allowance of $5 before this Saturday. Why? He wants to play his new video game. Why does he need to earn it by Saturday? Because we have a family rule that video games are only allowed on the weekend. And why does he need $15 to play?

Our story begins Sunday evening at Target, when Jonathan not only talked Dad into letting him go peruse the Wii games, but ultimately talked Joshua into going halfsies on a new game. We got home too late to play the game, so it was put away in eager anticipation of next weekend. Unfortunately when school commenced on Monday, we found that our math DVD had been left out and therefore made available to the resident preschoolers. Joseph and Josiah are notorious for their ill-treatment of DVDs. It was pretty much scratched to death!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told them that they are responsible for safely putting away their school DVDs after each use. They were promptly informed that they would be replacing the DVD. “No problem,” they thought. Joshua still had enough money left (he’s my saver) and Jonathan would just save his allowance until he had enough. What they didn’t count on was mean ol’ Mommy telling them that they couldn’t play their game until it was paid off! Joshua, who has a “take it or leave it” attitude about video gaming anyway, was unfazed. Jonathan, on the other hand, thought the world was going to end.

He’s been begging for jobs around the apartment to earn extra money. I offered to let him dust the dining room, living room, and foyer furniture for $2. He pounced on that offer. I then mentioned that he could shred a stack of papers I had weeded out of the filing cabinet. I offered just a dollar. After all, the boys usually beg for the privilege of helping when I pull out the shredder! He readily consented, and went right to work. Thirty minutes into this job he realized it was bigger than he thought and began to renegotiate—now he wanted two dollars. I pointed out to him that he had agreed to do the work for $1, and that in the future he would do well to do any negotiating over price up front! He plugged along, finished the job, and earned his dollar.

He still needs $12 more. As much as his plight tugs at my mommy heartstrings, I don’t want to make it too easy for him. After all, my goal here is for him to learn the value of being responsible. If it’s just handed to him, he will be much happier in the short run but will have missed an opportunity to gain some very valuable wisdom. And this lesson, while learned with some discomfort, is learned at a much smaller price now than it might be years later.

He hasn’t quite caught on to this yet, but I have no intention of letting him earn the total amount of money he needs before Saturday. While it makes me sad, I know he needs to miss out on playing his game this weekend to drive home the point that he needs to be diligent in caring for the school materials that we purchase for him. I’m sure there will be tears on Saturday. I’m hoping that when he is a responsible young adult he will appreciate this lesson. In the meantime, you can fully expect me to be nominated for the title of Meanest Mommy of the Year!


Annalia Romero said...

It's kind of a Mommy job to be mean. I wish I was better at it. I get upset but have trouble with the follow-thru. Stick to you guns! :)

Jenny said...

Thanks, Annalia! I agree being mean sometimes comes with the job--it is hard, though! I'm not giving in this time!

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