Sunday, January 28, 2007

I should charge a finder's fee

For some reason, my child has formed the idea that I am able to find lost objects. I don't know what could have led her to believe this, since she lives with me and is witness to my daily getting-ready-for-work routine, in which I run around looking frazzled and yelling "What happened to that hairbrush I just had?" and "Where the hell are my keys?" Still, she never fails to assume that I'll be able to find the missing pink Polly Pocket shoe (if you thought Barbie shoes were small and easily lost, let me just tell you that Polly Pocket makes Barbie look like one of Cinderella's big-footed stepsisters), or the folded-up piece of paper from her backpack, or the six-month-old issue of National Geographic Kids that she suddenly must read. She's so certain of my powers in this area that she gets incensed when I suggest that it isn't my job in life to keep track of her stuff, and that maybe she ought to hie her butt up the stairs and try looking around in her room for whatever it is.

But at the same time, I keep messing myself up by accidentally performing some miraculous find, the way I did yesterday when she was looking for her Kid Pix computer game. I tried everything to get her to look for it herself -- asking where she'd last seen it, sending her upstairs to get the CD case where her games are supposed to be kept, etc. Finally I asked "Well, did you look for it next to the computer?" She said no, and I walked across the room, plucked the disk off the computer cart, and waved it at her.

"See, here it is. If it'd been a snake it would've bit you."

"Wow! Thanks, Mom!"

The legend continues. Now if I could just find my keys ...

In other news, my plan to bribe encourage G to attend to her "responsibilities" by restarting her allowance is working pretty well. She hasn't exactly rushed to do everything on her list every day, but when I remind her that she has to do it all if she wants to get her money, she does it, and with little to no complaining. Today she spent some of her savings for the first time (on a jumprope she's been asking for at the grocery store, but that I've always said no to) and seemed pleased with her newfound power.

SpaceMom asked a while ago how old G was when I started giving her an allowance, and the answer is either five or six -- I'm not sure which, but she was in kindergarten at the time. It wasn't very successful because although she knew what money was, she didn't really have much interest in it, so that first attempt only lasted a month or so. About a year later, I tried again without much more impact: I'd forget to give it to her for weeks at a time because she never asked for it, and then she'd suddenly remember and want me to pay up all at once, forcing me to ask myself just how deceitful I wanted to be -- was I going to say Okay, G, I'll give you that $60 just as soon as I get to the ATM? or was I going to fudge it and say Gosh, it has been a while ... two weeks, right? Here you go! Ten bucks! I have no problem with a little well-placed parental prevarication, but it seemed a bit too dishonest to take advantage of a seven-year-old that way.

So now we're on our third attempt at the Great Allowance Experiment. I think the reason it's going so much better this time is because I've got a lot tougher about not buying G things over the last few months. Previously, she didn't have any need for her own money because she could count on me or P to get her whatever little trinket she asked for at the store. Now that I say no more often than not, she sees the value of being able to buy what she wants for herself. At least, that's my theory.

No comments: