Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Should Have Thought Of This Sooner

Being that it is summer and Colin is on vacation, I hatched a plan.

"Self," I said, "What are we going to do with Colin on Thursdays? Thursdays is The Day We Clean. I really don't want him moaning about the house for the several hours it takes to get the basics done, asking what he should do, over and over and over, as you are going to be limiting the amount of electronic games he is going to get to play. "

"Ah, Self," I replied, "I have a plan. A brilliant plan. A plan taken from my mother's book of Pre-emptive Parenting Strikes."

"Good. Glad to hear it, Self. Proceed."

Jump ahead a couple of weeks to today. Thursday.

Me: "Colin, we are going to clean the house today. I want you to help me. After we are done, you will earn... (drumroll)... A Dollar."

Colin: (Eyes instantly lit up with Capitalistic glee) "Great! A whole dollar! Really?"

Me: "Yes, a whole dollar that you can spend on anything you want."

Colin shovels in the rest of breakfast, dashes off to get dressed, then dances around asking me, "Are you ready for me to start helping, yet?"

We start with the laundry and he shoves both his and Sara's dirty clothes basket to the laundry room while I strip our bed and get Charles' and my clothes gathered. He helps put in the detergent and clothes. He then energetically helps pick up the house so we can vacuum. He valiantly vacuums the dining room and moves the kitchen chairs to the now crud-free dining room for easier attacking of the kitchen floor. He reaches his 6-year-old limit and flops on the couch. That's fine. It is much easier for me to do the vacuuming and mopping as I am taller than the vacuum and the mop. He decides that dusting is his calling, until it is time to dust. He waves the rag around. Really. Waves it. At the table, at the stand, at the dog, at the dog some more. 2 hours later, he has managed to dust 6 things but has not whined once about being bored. Instead, he has whined about wishing that houses didn't need cleaning. As that is a whine I can get behind with all gusto, I commiserate and send him to dust the dining room table as his last chore.

He earns a slightly crumpled dollar bill (his first paper money). He gets out his rabbit bank, containing some $27 dollars in change (give or take, we have not counted it but it is heavy enough to use as a weapon should anyone feel the need to break-in and manage to get past Emma). He then spends another hour examining each of his coins, getting excited about his state quarters and fifty-cent pieces and couple of Canadian coins. He then decides that he needs to give me a present: Several coins, adding up to $1.37. I protest that he doesn't need to give me his money. He will not be denied the joy of giving me this. I accept it with ceremony and gratitude.

Not bad. No bored whining, some real help with housework, and I make $.37 in the deal. I think I am raising him right.

Wonder when Sara is old enough to pay for chores?

(Note: No. I did not keep the money. I slipped it back in the bunny. What kind of mom do you think I am?)

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Regret # 48205:

I wish I had not embedded the sharp edge of the new cheese slicer so deeply into the end of my left thumb. Not only does it hurt a lot, but I keep banging it and then saying those bad words.

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13 Comments:

Blogger The Lioness said...

What? Dusting w a RAG? Have you not heard of the FlyLady.net dusters?? For shame!

What a brill idea! They've known abt the joys of child labour here for centuries you know. Quite handy. Makes for strappy, vigorous children.

Rock on w your bad digit-amputated self!

5:37 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Score one for you for making your child WORK. I had Dishes Duty from age 7 on (for whatever reason, my sister was never assigned a Duty - not even dishes. Go figure.) Anyway, it was good for me (and YES, I am very anal about how clean my kitchen is now)

As we left the sonogram room knowing we were having a boy, X and I actually made the comment "hey, we can actually SEE the end of the lawncare service now!"

11:47 AM  
Blogger Mojavi said...

ouch! sounds like it hurts. I am so clumsy I hurt myself with everything. Or fall down the stairs.

That is aa wonderful idea to keep him semi-busy and out of your hair.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Stacy Moe said...

Yes...it is nice to get some labor out of the kids. Allie tends to begin cleaning with great enthusiasm, that lasts, oh, about 20 minutes. Her main money-maker for home chores tends to be matching the socks in the "sock barrel" where all mate-less socks go to await (hopefully) their match when it comes out of the dryer. She gets 10 cents per pair. Its an endless job, so she knows she can always mate-up some socks for quick cash...

Careful! no cutting off of fingers...

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. So you got all this from Mom, huh? At least you got football education from me.

RF

2:51 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Johnny- No, no! These are not ordinary rags, these are special chartreuse chamois car detail cloths with the 3M company logo, presented to the Piffle household by my favorite and only brother-in-law, James. He works for 3M, you see, and these puppies really pick up the dust, go in the wash and come back for more!
The Fly Lady scares me. I just hope she never sees my kitchen sink. I almost never floss it.

Cagey- My sister and I had table setting vs dishwasher unloading duty that we swapped each week. Some where around 14, mom started paying the astronomical sum of $10 (well, astronomical for me, as it was equal to 10 hours of horrible baby-sitting) to both of us to do the basic house cleaning each week. It only took about 2-3 hours. We needed the money, she needed the sanity.
Funny, we were calculating how long it will be until Colin can drive the riding mower. I am starting him on weeding.

Mojavi- Whimper, whine, yes, hurts, but better today, thanks. It looks like a 2nd mouth. I will let you know if it grows a tongue or starts to talk back.

Stacy- Great kid idea! Laundry folding should be in his future in a few months. We stayed at a condo once that had a washer and dryer. The damn thing actually ate socks, 3-4 of them. No, really. I stopped a load in the dryer part way through and was in time to rip what was to be the next sock from it's grip as it was being sucked out the back where the rotating barrel met the back of the machine. Here's hoping your socks are only transiently separated.

Dad- You were the one who paid us a dollar an hour to dig moss from between the cedar shingles on the roof with a teaspoon. (No, not making that one up.) Good thing you have football to your credit. I'd rather have babysat.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

"he has whined about wishing that houses didn't need cleaning."

Out of the mouths of babes! I still whine about that. Every Saturday AM gets sacrificed to house cleaning.

A dollar is a *lot* of money for a kid. What a generous mom you are--and how very, very sweet that he gave you a $1.37 as a gift.

One more good thing about blogging--it allows you to record little these little moments of charm that you might otherwise forget!

10:13 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I love this! Do you think you could send him to my apartment to clean my room? You'd get him back in 2006, okay, probably more like 2007. That's not too long to be seperated from your child, right?

I hate cleaning. It is evil. As evidenced by the fact that I have paths in my bedroom. Do not stray from the paths! You will get lost!

12:38 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Rozanne- Yup, that's my boy! I am sure he came up with that on his own and wasn't parroting me. Can I scream again ho much I love working part time? Sacrifficing a Thursday is infinitely preferable to a Saturday.

Dana- Heh, heh, heh. Get your own slave, er, little-angel-with-money-lust, this one's all mine.

As an addendum, he spent his rumply dollar at the Toys-R-Us today on 2 of those machine-dispensed little super-bouncy balls. As the machine takes only quarters, I exchanged him 4 quarters for the dollar. He joyfully plunked them into the machine and then we got to educate him that, even though that very same dollar was in reality in mom's purse, it was now mom's as he had SPENT IT. Yes. Spent. Gone. In exchange for the 2 balls in his hands.

Sad-kid face occurred but it cleared when I reminded him he would have plenty more dollar making opportunities each week. Housework never ends, right.

Ah, these little life lessons.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

Those bad words you say when you bang your thumb? They are very satisfying, aren't they? Until your kids start repeating them around easily shocked great-grandparents, that is.

(no, that's never happened to me, why do you ask? she asks with her fingers crossed behind her back. Luckily, at least half of said pair of great-grandparents is very, very deaf...)

11:59 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Teri- I seem to have gotten of lucky, so far. Charles cut himself shaving when 18 mo-old Colin walked by the bathroom. For hours, all he would utter was "SIT! SIT!" Good thing he was not able to pronounce the "H" yet. I thing age related hearing loss must be in some ways a blessing, eh?

9:24 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Can't wait to have my children saying "Oh FFS!" In English. Good times ahead. But at least they toll will be anglophiles, albeit cursing ones.

10:27 AM  
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1:01 AM  

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