A Man with A Plan

You want to know one of the things I love about being a Mom? It’s that you just never know where your life is going to take you.  A simple dinner can turn into a complex conversation about prejudice. Getting ready for school can veer off into a political debate.

Take, for example, a conversation last week, around dinner time. Second Born Son has been jonseing for some extra cash, since he has a serious “graphic novel” (comic book to the rest of us) addiction going on. He has every last coin counted out on his desk and he’s done the research for the upcoming Free Comic Book Day (May 3 cannot come fast enough!). However, the books he really wants, will not be “free” this year.

CURSE YOU UNIVERSE!!

SBS is a clever little dude, so he comes to the Mother Ship to figure out a solution to his financial woes.

“Bud, what it comes down to, is if you want extra money, you need to get a job.” I tell him.

“I don’t want a JOB!” he replies, as though I have suggested that he donate a kidney.

I can see the hamster running on its wheel and his eyes light up.

“I know, you can pay me to do chores!” he announces, with a look of excitement that is reserved for Christmas morning.

{{POW}} – DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING BATMAN!

“You mean, like recycling, compost, feeding the dogs and picking up poops?” I ask.

“YES! For $20 a week!!” he exclaims, thrilled that I’m picking up what he’s putting down.

“Why would I do that? You are supposed to do that now?” I ask, almost literally scratching my head.

“I KNOW, but you wouldn’t have to TELL me to do it, I’d just do it. And I’d keep my room clean too!” he generously offers.

<PAUSE >Now, I know what you are thinking. You think, ‘Hey Sarah, the kid is asking for an allowance.’ I am in no way, a fan of allowances. I read A LOT about the concept and aside from the fact that I didn’t have one, nor did The Big Guy, I feel like the items that he’s asking for compensation for, are part and parcel of being part of this family. I understand the dynamic of teaching the child the importance of understanding how to handle money. I get that some feel it is good for a child’s sense of self to be responsible for their own currency. However, SBS has demonstrated that with proper guidance, he CAN save money, UNTIL he finds something he SIMPLY. MUST.HAVE. We have also endured his frustration with himself when the coveted item he purchased last week in the throes of desire, quells into another item for the Not So Cool bin once it’s obtained. Boyfriend likes the chase, is what I’m saying. <PLAY>

So, with this in mind, I size up the situation.

“If I was going to pay someone, and I’m not saying I’m going to, I would want a lot more than that,” I reply. At this point The Big Guy is in the room, as is First Born Son (who, by the way, has never asked for an allowance). They can tell by the look on my face that this is going to be entertaining. I’m waiting for them to break out popcorn.

“You tell me what you want me to do and I’ll write it down, we’ll have a contract!” gushes SBS.

“Well, I’m thinking you need to set the table every day, do the dishwasher, start helping with laundry,” he looks up from his note pad at this point, “and you have to help with outside work.” The pen goes down. He’s not picking up my puttin’ down any more.

***ZOINKS***

“What???”

“Well, if I’m going to pay you $20 a week, you are going to have to earn it!” I tell him.

~HOLY BANK ACCOUNT ROBIN!~

“Go for it! That’s $80 a month!” goads FBS. I shoot him a death stare.

“I don’t know,” says SBS, doodling on his “contract” post it note.

“Well maybe I should tell you about my terms for this,” I offer. The Big Guy is smiling now.

“What terms?!” asks SBS.

“Well, right now, I pay for a lot of things for you. I don’t mind doing that because of the things you do help out with. But if we are going to switch and I have to PAY for your help, then I get to cut back on what I spend.”

“Like what???” he asks, genuinely concerned.

“Well, I pay for pizza and milk at school. I won’t pay for that any more, or any pita days.” I state. His jaw drops. “When we go to the city, I treat you to snacks or lunch. I won’t do that any more. I won’t pay for movies either. And now that I think about it, your brother was doing odd jobs around the neighbourhood and he was earning money for some of the clothes he wanted. So maybe it’s only fair we do the same for you?!” My hubby and elder son are transfixed, as though watching a real life episode of Dragons’ Den.

“NO WAY, I’M OUT!” announces SBS. He packs away the note pad and pen. Said contract is in the trash.

“No, hey, wait a minute,” I call out to him, “this could really work out well for me!!

The next morning, the pad is out again.

Lordy! I don't get paid every Friday!!

Lordy! I don’t get paid every Friday!!

I note the reduced rate, as well as the omission of outdoor work and laundry. He has been asking each morning since if I’ve come to a decision about this “counter” offer.

This conversation is going to resume tonight. I have a feeling he is going to enjoy the status quo!

2 thoughts on “A Man with A Plan

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