This weekend, Liam received a very special gift from our family friends. A REAL Ben 10 watch. I don’t think it would have been such a big deal, had he not been moaning, whining, begging and pleading for a watch for the last two months. I may possibly have been bribing him with the idea that if he was a good boy, helped mommy, played nicely with his sister, quit crying for every little thing – then possibly I would buy him a watch. I also think that Liam is at the age where I don’t want to buy him everything his heart desires for … well … nothing – they get lots of treats and spoils from us, but I don’t want him to think that he can simply have a desire for something and mommy and daddy will rush out and buy it. I want him to earn or work towards getting something that he really really wants, firstly so that he can have a real appreciation for it, and secondly so that he learns that things don’t just fall down from the sky because he wished for it.
So yes he got his watch, he was so chuffed and kept telling me what a good boy he was going to be. He slept with it on his arm on the first night and chose to wear it to school yesterday even though I gave him a stern lecture about not taking it off his arm and that his friends could look but not touch, and how if he broke it or lost it, he would not be getting another one any time soon (only to get to school and discover that I had forgotten it was the first swimming lesson for the term, so I had to RE-explain that he DID have to take it off his arm but only for swimming… sigh.)
Anyway, the point is, I really want to encourage Liam to start earning his keep at home. Ok calm down, I don’t mean I’m going to get him to sew our clothing and cook our dinners and massage my feet every evening (although the massage isn’t a bad idea). But I think he is ready and able to get involved in certain age appropriate tasks, and I already know that he loves to be incentivized – NOT that I’m going to pay him or reward him for doing things that every family member should be doing anyway. But rewarding him or incentivizing him for a special project or an ongoing show of good form. Yes, I want to create a star chart, but more than that I want him to understand that if you want something amazing, or something that costs quite a bit of money, then you have to work for it my boy. When I was growing up, we had to wait for Christmas or our birthdays to get this fabulous thing that we had dreamt about all year. These days, Liam sees something which he likes in the shop, and 9/10 times I will pop it in the trolley for him. Granted his tastes are not that expensive yet, and it’s usually a pack of cars, or sunglasses or a lucky packet, but I don’t want him to be THAT kid who just demands stuff in the shop and we cower at his requests, because he is used to getting what he wants. I mean, I as the parent create that monster, right?
So far he sets the table for dinner, by that I mean I put the table cloth on, he puts the place mats and plastic bowls, cups and cutlery for Hannah and himself and I set the glass tableware. He takes his own clothes to the laundry basket, he is responsible for keeping his room tidy and packing his toys away. I make him do this for Hannah’s room as well – and Hannah is supposed to help him, but she just dishes out instructions to Liam. He helps in the garden, although with his newly discovered allergies I prefer him not to. And my personal favourite, he runs around doing everything I tell him to do – fetch this, go there, pick that up, bring that to me, change the channel, help your sister to wash her hands, etc. All I need him to do is make me a cup of tea and I’m set for life. These are things that he should be doing “for free” any way; his contribution to the household until he can pay me board and lodging, ha. But I’m going to start giving him some money to put into his money box or rewarding him with a special outing or a new book or whatever to show him how I value his contribution and also for him to understand that being a good helper DOES have its rewards. After he has saved up a bit of loot, I’ll let him buy something for himself. We will record all these happenings on a star chart. Also I’m going to use this as a form of bribery, I can’t take the crying and whining any longer, and stars will be added or removed depending on how many waaaawaaa’s I have to put up with a day.
I’m glad that he got his watch, because secretly I DO want him to have all his heart desires just because. But I also know that good parenting must prevail, so my sweat shop opens today.
KIDDING, relax, geez.