11.05.2008

Learning Experiences

In our household, the children are given a weekly allowance in the amount of {roughly} half their age. Thus, Little Miss C, being 7 years old, is given 3 dollars a week and her younger brother is given $1.50. We teach them that chores are part of being a family. We all must pull our weight if we want things to run smoothly. So, allowance is in no way connected to chores, although if they want to earn additional money, they are free to earn it by doing additional chores.  

Our hope has been that this small weekly sum will be enough to teach them about managing money. It certainly has helped me have a ready reply when they start asking for things, be it a Happy Meal or gum from the checkout stand. "Sure!" I say cheerfully, "do you have your money?" As soon as they realize that they are responsible to pay for things, it quells the begging almost instantly. 

Yesterday, Little Miss C was determined to buy a Webkinz. We went to a store where they often have them steeply discounted, and she ran in while I stood outside the door with my hands full of grocery bags. When she didn't return right away, I poked my head inside and called her back. "How much are they?" I asked her. 

"$5.99!" she replied happily. I knew for a fact that she only had six dollars in her hand. 

"That's not enough, sweetie,"  I told her sadly. 

She rolled her eyes. "It's okay mommy! I'm just going to buy one anyway." 

"You can't. You don't have enough."

"It's okay!"

"No it's not. You don't have enough" I insisted. 

"It's OKAY!" She said just as insistently. 

I was impatient and was about to tell her to just forget it and get back in the car when I suddenly thought, "Why am I trying to explain this? The whole point of allowance is to let her experience money for herself." She didn't understand tax. All she understood was that I was being mean, telling her she didn't have enough money when she clearly believed she did. So I stopped arguing and let her go back into the store. 15 minutes later, she walked out teary eyed. "I don't have enough!" She wailed. I wrapped my arms around her and told her I was sorry that she was so sad. Instead of being the bad guy, I was able to be a comfort to her. It was a learning experience for both of us. 

On the way home, Little Miss C asked if she could start a lemonade stand to earn enough to buy the Webkinz. I cringed, thinking of all the work that it would involve for me. But I was high from my recent parenting success, so I thought, why should it involve work for me? Let her do it. Let her learn from the experience. So I said yes, and she busily began writing out a sign. 

We didn't have lemonade, so she mixed some orange juice. I read a magazine as she dragged her play table and chairs out to the curb and filled a bowl with candy to sell alongside the orange juice. We didn't have paper cups, but that didn't deter her. She washed her tea set and took the little cups outside. She even 'baited' her little tip jar with her allowance money. And then she waited. 

And waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, a young woman on rollerblades stopped. She complimented C on her sign. She drank the tiny cup of orange juice, proclaimed that it was wonderful, and drank another. Then she gave Little Miss C a dollar and skated away. Little Miss C was ecstatic, and promptly announced that she's going to run an orange juice stand every afternoon! 

Oh boy. A learning experience for both of us.  :)

9 comments:

Melissa said...

This is too precious! Way to stick to your guns. Most parents would just have handed her the difference and she would have missed out on this lesson. What a great way to foster creativity, too!

LisAway said...

You are really great mother. This is such a great experience, as you say, for both of you!

Rachel said...

What an awesome post and lesson to each of us as moms. Thank you!

Janae said...

What a great mother you are! This post taught me a lot too. :)

Kiki said...

Thank you for sharing this learning moment for both you and your daughter! I'll keep this in mind as allowance time comes around. Sweet little girl you have in little miss c!

Gina Lee said...

I too learned a lot from this post. I give my son money each week... not enough and for nothing. It's time (he's now four) for him to do chores and earn his $$$$$$$$$. Thanks

Heidi Ashworth said...

You are so darn patient. I would have guessed the ending (as I am sure you did) and not have wanted to go through with it, in either case. But, it is good to let them find things out by themselves--some kids just don't learn otherwise. Some kids take their parents word for it. I have some of each. : )

Susan said...

I'm glad I got this link from my sister's parenting post. Though I tend to identify with her (the yelling by the end of my parenting moment) it's nice to hear the good stories and be inspired!

Beth said...

The more I read, the more I like! I too, have been/am learning that the best teacher for my kids is themselves. (of course with a little guidence). Good luck with your marathon training. My husband and I signed up for the Phx marathon, but I got really sick and now I'm scared that I won't be able to get back in shape in time. . .

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