Negotiations: child labour and other parenting dilemmas

I’ve having my vehicles detailed while I sit here in the sun and write. The exterior hand-wash is not our usual M.O., but the price was right.

We’re more of a wait-until-you-can’t-tell-what-colour-your-car-is-under-all-that-dirt kind of family, at which point we pick the very cheapest alternative at the drive-through car wash. It’s quick, easy AND you can make out in the dim light of the tunnel. Nothing sets the mood quite like the rhythmic thumps of the brushes on the roof – or maybe I’m just a cheap date.

Despite the lack of romance, this cleaning crew is enthusiastic and eager for the work. I’m not sure they’re the most experienced washers in town. The short one may actually be making it worse, spreading a mud and soap concoction all over the car doors. Was she just picking her nose? I’m beginning to question my hiring standards. Plus, she may also need a diaper change.

All this for the low, low price of $3 per vehicle. Both the big girls and their friend P were happy for the work. B was happy to accept payments in the forms of kisses and snuggles, especially since she was more hindrance than help.

The Quest for Cash

Making money is a the new obsession in our house. No, we did not begin capitalist indoctrination of our children early, though Glen did graduate from business school, so he has the skill set in place. We did however, agree to the purchase of iPod Touches, with the condition that they must pay for it themselves.

The truth is, we’ve been looking for a project like this. It is good to have to wait, to save and to work towards a long-term goal. It will mean that much more when they finally hold it in their hot little hands.

Everything comes so easy these days. Not just for them, but for us too. We have everything we need and most of what we want. Compared to the rest of the world, and certainly more so than any time in history, we live like royalty and rarely appreciate it.

I know that their friends, and even their friends parents, feel sorry for them. We’ve heard through the grapevine that we are expecting too much. After all, iPod Touch is not a cheap purchase.

Let the negotiations begin

An unexpected side effect of this project is L’s blossoming sales ability. Only 11 years old and I’m pretty sure she could take the Home Shopping network by storm. She is pretty convincing in presenting her new ideas. This one she floated earlier this week in infomercial format: she will work constantly on our behalf for 2 whole weeks, with no money down, only the promise of an iPod Touch!

Observe the colourful visual aid! We didn’t even realize this wide variety of needs were unmet in our life until this point. As if that is not enough, she will throw in a number of bonus chores, above and beyond those listed in the original list, FOR FREE! What a deal!

Other deals we have also declined: selling all earthly possessions on e-bay (only because I can’t stand the hassle of it all – I have no problem with a vow of poverty for the sake of superior technology), advances on christmas/birthday money right up until her adult years, offers to eat less and move out of the house earlier… you’ve got to give her props for creativity.

Nonnegotiable

For the record, we are not in the habit of PAYING our children to work. There are certain responsibilities that are just part of family life. We are a team and everyone has to pitch in. Even Becca sets napkins on the table each night.

Long before this iPod debacle my children have been the recipients of pity and concern regarding their enslavement, or so they would have us believe. Each day they must make their bed (at least that is the rumor, it rarely happens without nagging…ahem… gentle reminders), also they load/unload the dishwasher and make their school lunches. Weekly chores include: sorting laundry, helping with folding, putting laundry away, cleaning the bathroom (C upstairs; L downstairs), cleaning bedrooms and playroom, plus the occasional babysitting/help with B.

Despite the deep pity and horror of our children’s “more fortunate” friends, we are not monsters! Not only do the girls get christmas and birthday money from several OVERLY generous relatives, they also get a weekly allowance. We’ve recently decided to upgrade this to $6 per week ($1 must be used for giving/charity). Fines are levied for poor execution of chores, finding clothing on the ground ($1 per instance, so they are pretty good at keeping it on their body, in the drawer or in the laundry hamper) and whatever heinous crime seems to require financial recompense.

The Deal

Yet, we have heard the pleas of our eldest child and we have relented. There will be payment for SOME extra chores at $1 each. Vacuuming, folding laundry, babysitting, and a few other tasks I am eager to unload. Since writing this, our neighbours have joined the cause also. They paid the girls a generous amount to do various chores at their house and are considering a car wash session (thanks Sandra and John!). As long as they are working for their pennies, I am content.

Meanwhile, L has set her sights on a refurbished iPod Touch for only $130, plus shipping. It makes my thrifty little heart swell with pride!

So here’s me, fully prepared to pay $0.01 per grape they peel and feed to me by hand. I’ve always wanted a maid-servant!

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About So Here's Us.... life on the raggedy edge.

I'm a bookworm, nature lover, kick-boxer, candy fiend, sci fi geek, home body, progressive Christian and part-time student. I love my crazy life and the messy, fun, stubborn, silly, brilliant people who populate it. View all posts by So Here's Us.... life on the raggedy edge.

2 responses to “Negotiations: child labour and other parenting dilemmas

  • Pam

    I see that Slavery has been discovered in your home as well!!! Glad to hear we are not the only ones who resort to this method of child rearing. Two of our children have done the old ipod savings plan and it is very rewarding and such great training for their adult life. I think I will get my kids to read this so they know they are not in this alone. There are other “mean” parents out there after all! Good job Christie!

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