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Mommy Memoirs: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Cold Hard Cash

Posted by Claire | Thursday December 1, 201110 comments

We're a multinational family: the Mister's from Europe, I'm Canadian, and one of our kids was born in the United States where we now live. So in addition to having more citizenships and passports than you can shake a stick at, we also have a transnational mentality of entitlement and diplomatic negotiation.

As in, "if you say no to us, we'll just ask that other country and they'll probably say yes."  (Otherwise known as the Go Ask Grandma Maneuver)

It's served us well in the past, but now it's coming back to bite us in our collective heinies.

I once mentioned that we don't parent by The Book.  The Book says to give children a small, age-appropriate allowance and teach them how to manage their own money.  When aforementioned Book was quoted by eldest child in her quest to buy a Nintendo DSi, Daddy said "no".

So she asked Mommy who said "yes"--with the caveat that instead of an allowance, she'd be working for her wages.  (Daddy finally agreed with my wisdom when I pointed out that all other attempts to get those rascals to tidy their rooms had failed spectacularly.)

This is how our Saturday mornings go down then: a list of available jobs is posted with their corresponding monetary values (calculated using a highly scientific method of tapping thoughtfully on my chin and then pulling a random number out of the air that ends in the word "cents").  The kids gather around, and after some negotiation and review assign themselves 5 tasks each. 

It all feels so American and democratic and capitalistic and perfect.  You know: Life, Liberty... all that good stuff.

But when Mommy comes home from a long day of errands and asks for help unloading the groceries, the last thing she wants to hear is: "What are you going to give me for it?"

Back in the olden days the answer would have been "a swift kick in the rear, my dear," but apparently it's frowned upon to say such things in the 21st century.

Thus begins a series of negotiations to find the lowest bidder among my three opportunistic offspring.  Cash only - a hug and kiss from Mommy is not legal tender 'round these parts.

These future Donald Trumps have even mastered wage negotiation.  They understand bonuses, cost of living increases, and fair market compensation.  I never realized having a kid in the smartie-pants math class would be a problem until Economics Week.

Thank goodness for this rotten economy, otherwise my squad of child laborers might take their talents to another employer.

Parents: do you give allowances, pay for chores, or leave cash out of the equation entirely?
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on December 02, 2011  Aliza  13,970 said:

This is too funny. I never got got allowance to do chores when I was a kid, but times are changing where kids want to be paid for everything they do for you.

on December 02, 2011  mamaluv  STAFF said:

@Suelyn - then you should charge him $5 for his dinner. And then $5 for breakfast, $5 for lunch, $5 for driving him and his buddies to the movies, $5 for washing a load of his clothing... :)

on December 02, 2011  Suelyn  2,249 said:

This is what my older boy said "I will clean up my room "IF" you give me $5" Ah... I don't think so. hehe.

on December 01, 2011  Bren  25,292 said:

Ohhh I remember those days all to well.The only thing my son would do was take out the garbage.But his bedroom a different story!It was the scariest site and he eventually knew to close the door because I would cringe when seeing it I'm such a neat freak.When he actually cleaned it it would go right back to a dumping ground by the next day.Now that hes grown up and on his own surprising he has changed.I think all young kids like to rebel.

on December 01, 2011  Becky  13,068 said:

@mamaluv: omG! Yes it was K'nect!! :) :) I still remember the first advertises I saw of that! Awwwwwsome :-D

Unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to weasel out rewards for homework either :( my mom sent me to regular school and homeschooled me too - totally separate. I was homeschooled in both my own language and English (my own language has 42 letters other accents / characters to give you a taste of how complex it is), and continued being home-schooled totally separate from regular school and homework all the way up to highschool. She rewarded me for the homeschool bit, not the home work :( Well I can't complain, the "legal contracts" took care of the big expenses, and my mom was a sucker for guilt trips which took care of the small expenses stuff...hmm, this thread is making me realize i was a bit of a torment as a child! :-/ I cringe to think how my future kids will turn out...

on December 01, 2011  mamaluv  STAFF said:

@Becky, I do believe you mean K'nect :) And yes - that's so important to hold up your end of the bargain. I've learned that lesson too! Only I generally don't reward for doing homework. I consider that to be non-negotiable (though they certainly try...)

@Ali, I'll continue sharing my "wisdom" - though it's in the ears of the beholder.

on December 01, 2011  Ali de Bold  STAFF said:

Haha! This is too funny! Oh the things I have to look forward to. I think your idea is great but I do see the pitfalls if they want to be compensated for everything. That's a tough one! Let us know when you figure out a solution. So I can copy it, of course.

on December 01, 2011  Becky  13,068 said:

@mamaluv your story made me laugh :-) Whenever we wanted something from our parents, I would write up a "legal document" detailing what we want, and how if we're given that, we won't ask for anything else until we're X-years old, and if parents agree they have to sign (two names with underlined areas to sign) and we kids have to sign. Those legal docs never did last past a few weeks after our getting what we want :-) I'm pretty sure my mom has kept them all too! lol :-)

I also remember when I was younger, my mom would teach me (in addition to going to school), I'd have to learn 'cuz she said so (no negotiation there), but say there was a latest greatest toy I wanted, she would tell me if I did x-number of pages more today, she'll buy it for me. And she always did. She was never one to delay fulfilling her side of the agreement. I remember when Connect/kinect/something (no, not xbox kinect) first came out (it's the lego like pieces that connect via hooks and can make robots and cars, etc), I wanted it. So mom said if I did 4 extra pages of writing she'll buy it for me. Now this is mid 80s and I was between 3 - 4 yrs old. I remember clearly, as soon as I was done, we went outside and she bought it for me. It was *awesome* :-)

As for chores....umm...i'm actually really bad at doing chores, even now. So no comment on that :-P

on December 01, 2011  mamaluv  STAFF said:

@takoda - that was my husband's position too, that some things our kids need to do without being paid. We've managed to negotiate Room Cleaning, Feeding The Pets, and Clearing The Table as freebies. Everything else is paid but you know what? I'll take that small victory!

on December 01, 2011  takoda  28,648 said:

Claire you make me laugh every time I read something of yours. I tried
putting jobs up with payment for my boys when they were younger, but
that only lasted for about a week. It ended up be more fights over who
did what and nothing was getting done unless I did it. So now they clean
their room, take the garbage out and so on with out getting paid to do
it. They're not very good at negotiators.LOL My oldest is a big spender,
if its in his hand for longer then a day it drive him crazy, where my
youngest will save for something bigger. Its not an easy thing to teach
some, but its always best to try when they're little.

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