Lately–say for the last 15 years–I’ve been fighting with my 9 year old daughter. Okay, maybe it just feels that long. It seems like every time I say ANYTHING I am met with a sneer, an eye roll, or a word muttered under her breath. OMG!!! Which is the main thing she mutters while she’s sneering and rolling her eyes. You know, we parents lost all power when spanking went out of vogue. I mean, “time outs” my daughter has spent half the day in time out without even batting an eye.
One evening, after hearing the shower running for AGES, I knocked on the door to tell Dear Daughter that her time was up. Angst, screaming and gnashing of teeth resulted with the following statement: “But I haven’t even gotten in the shower yet!!!” Excuse me–the water has been running for 1o minutes. “I was waiting for it to cool off!” By what, using up all the hot water?!?!?! So I gathered my breath and called upon a higher power. God, give me the wisdom to know how to deal with these children. And the Lord spoke to me, “Appeal to their greed.” I have to admit, I was hoping He would just make them nice little compliant bunnies, or magically have them start listening to me like all the other kids in the school–
Side note: If I am the meanest Mommy in the school, then THEY are the most misbehaving students in the school. If THEY can say to me, “But all the OTHER moms give their kids cell phones, why can’t WE have one?!?!?” (side-side note: Other Mom with the cell phone kids–I will kill you when I find you), then I get to respond to my kids with, “All the OTHER kids clean up their rooms before the board of health condemns the space, why can’t you.”
Anyway, back to my conversation with God. Since His response was, “Appeal to their greed,” I was then blessed with a marvelous idea–cold, hard cash.
I waited for the princess to remove herself from the bath and I said to my charges, “Oh, children from my loin, I shall now…” Never mind, I said–“From now on, you will receive a TWENTY DOLLAR a week allowance. EACH.” Their eyes got huge. Then the boy’s narrowed, “and what chores do I have to do to get said twenty dollars.” And he really does speak like that.
“Nothing. You don’t have to do any chores to get the money.” The girl begins bouncing up and down, “rich, rich, rich, rich.” She does the math, “Do you know you will be giving us EIGHTY DOLLARS a month. That’s ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS total!!!” I never said they weren’t smart.
I nodded and let silence fall. I could see that my dear husband was waiting, knowing we did not have a spare $160.00 to give to the children each month. I mean, I have a Kohl’s card for goodness sakes.
“Here’s the ‘but’ for the money–every time you hit the other person, you lose $1.” The kids are still smiling and HUGGING each other! “Every time you are rude or disrespectful to me or daddy, $1.” The Girl’s grin falters, but she hangs in there. “Every time you forget your homework, $1.” Now they’ve both stopped smiling. “Every time I ask you to do something and you roll your eyes, mutter under your breath or play dead, $1.” Now my husband is finally smiling.
“But we can earn the money back, right?” my daughter questions.
“Nope, this is a one way street. You lose it, it is gone. No extra chore, or nice behavior, or sucking up–”
“You said suck.” my son offered.
“Interrupting would cost you $1.” My daughter really looked nervous now, she was the queen of interrupting.
“And pointing out MY language would be another dollar.
“We will start this on Sunday. For the rest of the day and tomorrow, I will give you warnings but not actually dock you. I want you to be totally aware of when you will lose money so you are prepared. You are smart–and you are greedy and I totally know you are capable of walking away with 20 dollars at the end of the week.”
Later that night my husband questioned me, “So, how much do you think you’ll hand out this week?”
“Not one dime.” By Tuesday, The Girl was broke. We’ve been doing this for three weeks. Last week, The Boy actually walked away with $6 but they didn’t have homework that week. Erin is always in the negative. She actually lost $6 just because I asked her to remove her wet clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer. She sat on the floor of the laundry room and told me I was mean and that $20 wasn’t enough, that I should offer her $100 a week. Quite frankly, I still don’t think I’d have to pay out anything.