You may have heard about a news item that went viral many months ago. The subject matter concerned a mother who gave her young teenage son a contract for an iPhone that he got for Christmas, after he had been begging for it all year.
His use of the phone depended on his acceptance of eighteen rules laid down by his mother. Among the caveats were admonishments against using the device to lie, fool or deceive another person; to remember his manners when using the phone, to turn it off in public, and not to use the camera feature as a memory keeper. But what tickled me the most was the first statement, which said, “It is my phone, I bought it… I am loaning it to you”.
That’s the way I feel about most of the things that I buy my children. Sure none of it can fit me and I won’t use any of the items, but they are still mine. So when my husband and I present our children with footwear for school, he tells them not to kick out “his” shoes. Even my daughter’s hair accessories belong to me – never mind that I don’t have much hair to put into them. When they lose an item, even if relatively cheap, we ask if they intend to buy it back. And they pull out the change from the piggy bank in response.
So my son has been counting the number of times that he has washed the dishes and rolled in the garbage bin and has been busy assigning a dollar value to this “work”. He didn’t tell me whether he was saving for anything in particular or just looking to pad his wallet, (or pay for lost items), but we had to inform him that since he was living rent free in the house, and had clothing, schooling and food provided gratis, we were in fact not going to pay him any money.
In the meantime, my daughter has been fantasizing about the colours that she would paint the rooms of the house when she gets older – “all the colours of the rainbow” she says. I told her that the only place that would happen is in her own house, where she could then do what she liked. She was shocked to realize that she was expected to move out when she got older, and I was thinking how sweet it was that she wanted to stay home with her Mommy even when she got older.
But that wasn’t it. She thought that when she got older, I would be moving out.