Mourning, money and the wonder of window markers

dscf2000 This weekend we had a death in the family.  Clark threw Grant’s beloved St. Bernard Webkin, affectionately called “Giblets” on top of the fireplace.  His paws and half his face melted off.  May he rest in peace in the office trash can.  This was a tragedy beyond Grant’s capacity to endure.  He cried and cried.  He’d settle down for a little while and then the memory of his loss would bring another round of tears and sorrow.  When he came into the office and saw Giblets languishing in his garbage grave, he flung himself upon my lap and sobbed.dscf1999 (That lovely lap is clothed in Frosty the Snowman pajamas.  Don’t judge.  It was snowing.)  Finally we determined that Clark will do chores to earn money and buy Grant a new Webkin.  Grant, who is anxious, and also aware that Clark’s not the most industrious kid in the world, volunteered to help out with the chores to expedite the savings.

In the van on the way home from preschool yesterday, the boys discussed their money-making plans and were trying to guess how long it would take them to earn the money and how many Webkinz they would be able to purchase with their jackpot.  Clark declared, “Mom, I’m going to work and work and work all day.”

“That’ll be great, Clark.”

So I wrote up a handful of chores on the living room window with these fancy new Crayola Window markers I purchased as a late-conference distraction.  While Natalie happily scribbled on the window (and surrounding window frame and wall), the boys wrote their names next to the chore they wanted to undertake first.  Clark chose “clean off table.”

dscf2002Well, it only took about 5 minutes before he changed his mind and declared that it was the most boring job in the world and he didn’t want to do it.  He moaned and wailed and insisted that he should be able to choose another chore because he didn’t like that one.  (This has been a pattern lately.  I refer you back to the Angry Mom sign.)  I said, “Sorry buddy, you need to finish that one before you can start another one.”  He wanted me to do it.  I told him that if I finished the job then I would earn the money.  He whined some more about how he really wanted the money, and finally declared his true intent:  “I want you to do the work and I get the money.”



Wasn’t it Elder Oaks who talked about entitlement?  How we somehow think we deserve things, but aren’t willing to labor for them?  I’m probably stretching his context, but I was not giving in.  I taught high school and I know what entitlement looks like when it grows up.

After much wailing, and a broken record stuck on phrases beginning with the words, “But I don’t waaaaaaaant to…,” Clark decided it would be easier to do his chore.  (Incidentally, I decided it would be easier to move to a desert island.)  Then for a short while, they both worked quite peacefully and even Natalie got in on the action with some Lysol wipes.

dscf2001And for anyone keeping track, there is now $1.25 in the Webkinz fund.  (Yeah, I don’t really care about minimum wage laws.)

In other news, before 7:30 this morning, sweet little Clark who is FOUR AND A HALF years old pooped in his nighttime diaper (nothing brings on more morning rage for me) and Natalie removed her diaper and peed on the living room floor.  There may be another death in the family by the end of the day.


12 thoughts on “Mourning, money and the wonder of window markers

  1. Re: minimum wage laws–yeah, I refuse to pay a lot for household chores too. The 16-year-old son now turns up his nose at chores-for-money at home. He still has to do the chores-for-no-money-because-you-live-here-and-have-to-help, but now that he gets a paycheck for pushing carts around, the quarter for sweeping the floors is not as attractive as it once might have been (and even then, he wasn’t that attracted to money earned from chores).

    Teaching children consequences is probably harder on the parent (tiring, mind-bogglingly annoying, time-consuming, nerve-fraying etc) BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT (not that we don’t still struggle with it with teenagers)! Keep up the good work!

  2. A couple of weeks ago a good high school friend came to visit with her two kids. While we were at the park, my little 5 yr old snuck into her purse (!) and stole (!) a candy bar. She snuck off to a little corner of the park and ate the whole thing! So her last two weeks has been spent earning money to replace the missing loot. I have to admit, though, that I’ve purposefully kept the ratio of money paid to work done extremely low to increase the difficulty of the task. Little sneaky thief! After the candy bar is repaid, she wants to start a fund for Bendaroos. Darn infomercials.

  3. Ha! I know I shouldn’t laugh, but the pooping in the diaper sounds like rebellion for the chores to me. 😉

    Good for you! Entitlement is such a plague, and I’m really trying hard not to let my kids get away with claiming it as their own religion. Now, if I can just keep my cool whilst-a-teachin’ them chores, then we’ll be set!

    P.S. It was Elder Hales who talked about entitlement, I believe. But Elder Oaks probably talked about it, too! They all run together for me after a few days…

  4. How much are Webkinz? I know my litle choir kids each got a couple for Christmas; that first January rehearsal was pretty “quien es mas macho” intensive, let me tell you!

    And can I say, with my old eyes looking at that first picture from my reading list, it looked like a BABY on that table?? And it was all about mourning!! I was ready to fly out there to hold your hand and grieve with you, Steph! Sheesh!

    And I totally support the FTS jammies.

  5. Oh, yeah. We’ve had multiple incidents of destruction and restitution around here, but they’re slowing down so I think my nine-year-old is catching on. But having taught middle school and as you said, knowing what entitlement looks like when it grows up, it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t because I would not GIVE UP. The battle’s way too important on that one.

  6. I’ve decided it would be easier to move to a desert island, too. Can I come with you, or are you going for solitary moments? I don’t care if I go with you or ten other moms, as long as there are NO children that talk back, have homework, or don’t like the food I buy or make.

  7. This world needs more mums like you. Seriously. This world of full of kids who aren’t being taught to work. Who are being taught that they are entitled. Way to break the pattern!

  8. Stephanie, thank you for putting real life out there so I know I’m not the only one . . . it’s too bad that teaching a child to work is 10x the amount of work for us!

  9. This is what happens when I go on holiday? Your place turns into a toilet and I am the last to hear about it. Sorry to hear there will be another death in the family. At least give them a proper burial instead of throwing them in the trash.

  10. I am so sorry about the diaper (and lack of diaper) stories. Ugh.

    And I remember when I was six and my sister was three and she bit the toes off of my Barbie. I was SO FURIOUS I wanted to kill her. And I cried too.

  11. you are a good mom in so many ways! way to go, making them work to earn the money to buy the new webkins, no matter how devastated grant was. good for you, for making clark stick to doing his chores. and you don’t pay over-inflated prices, either. thanks for your great example.

    we love those window markers. i often cover our sliding door with the day’s schedule. they are kind of a pain to clean, though, don’t you think? i hate the streaks. if you figure out any tricks for that, let me know.:)

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