Tag Archives: iPod Touch

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.


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!

To iPod or Not To iPod

…that is the question!

Yesterday I came home to find my eldest offspring not only loading the dishwasher, but wiping the counters after cleaning the entire kitchen. She told me she was in there anyway doing her chores, so she might as well pitch in. There was hugging, possibly tears. I congratulated her on her consideration and responsible attitude. I congratulated myself on my kick-ass parenting skills.

Later that evening, she sat down primly and asked to speak with me. “I was hoping I could have some clarification on the iPod issue.” That is a direct quote. I have to give her props for waiting a while after the cleaning and for her oh-so-professional delivery. Also the repeated use of the word “responsible” in her subsequent speech.

In summary, “Can I get an iPod Touch please? I will save up my money and pay for it myself. I know you said you would discuss it with Dad, but it has been 13 hours since I last asked and a lot of things have changed since then. For instance, I am now very ‘considerate and responsible’ (this is my paraphrase). Please see the exhaustive list of reasons I have written on the blackboard explaining what a good idea this is.”

Can I please get an iPod Touch?

It is the only question that matters to our 9 and 11-year-old this week. Two of their best friends have them. Apparently so do “like, EVERYONE I know Mom.” Which I sincerely doubt – I know one family that doesn’t even have a home computer or *gasp* email. Technophobes aside, this is an issue for us already, no matter how much I want to pretend otherwise.

I think back fondly on the good old days when times were simpler. Community was face-to-face: “Gather round kinfolk, it’s time for ye old hymn sing.” And problems were straightforward. “Pa, them coons done et all our muffins agin. Git the shotgun!”

“Ma, Old Yeller’s done got bit by a rabid coon! NOOOOOOOO!”

Okay, so even pioneer days weren’t a fantasy of perfection. Life isn’t Little House on the Prairie, for which my husband is infintely grateful. Especially after an entire chapter about making candles and two on maple syrup.

I blame myself.

As I sit here writing my blog on my laptop, with my iPhone close at hand, I am keenly aware of why my children are geared toward technology. And I can’t blame them.

For those who do not have their very own walking catalogue of features to sing its praises, the iPod Touch is not a phone. It is everything else.

This weekend, they used their friends’ iPods to make an adorable movie (complete with soundtrack), take pictures, listen to christian music, play games (some educational, some silly), email a friend, and watch stupid animal movies on youtube.

Nothing evil, nothing scary – except for, maybe, the youtube videos. That talking dog is creepy.

We have a lot to discuss. Can net nanny be put on an iPod? Can we turn off the texting function? Or all internet? Are we ready for them to have their own e-mail address (with copies of everything sent to us)? How much screen time is too much? How closely should we moniter it? How long will it take them to save up the money? What if they start making talking dog videos?

Insert answer here.

I left space here for the thoughtful, balanced, wise answer. But I don’t have one. For now the answer is no, but I’m not completely against it. Perhaps I should let them know the cleaning helped?

We’ve talked to a number of other parents we respect and their advice ranges from:

“Yes, this is a reasonable purchase for your pre-teen. With the appropriate boundaries and monitering it can be a useful tool. Earning the money themselves will be a good experience. Plus, they will stop fighting over your iPhone (okay, that last part is from me).”


“Are you kidding me? Useful for training as obese couch potatoes and cyber bully fodder. Buy them a candle making kit instead. And the box set of Little House on the Prairie while you’re at it.”

And both sides sound reasonable to me. I’m not sure…

So here’s me, flummoxed.

What do you think? We respect every parent’s right to decide this for their own children, so use your nice words. Should children be allowed personal technology? What kind and at what ages?

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