I understand that kids think the universe revolves around them. At our house that means four universes. Four very large and stubborn universes.
Each like a black hole -- sucking up all forms of life that dare come near. Yes. Paul and I dare... and we get sucked in and spit back out the other end into another dimension.
Over and over and over again.
UNTIL... we have had it. AND... last week... we had HAD it.
Each young male universe hit some sort of hormonal high or fantasy world or mega force something star warsy something...
There were several things that went profoundly wrong over two days last week involving the following: 1. Money; 2. Emotional meltdowns and; 3. Overall bratty-ness. Because of time, space, and my own desire not to relive the entire week, I will only talk about a few incidents that involve money -- with good background information about how my children feel and deal with money.
Keep in mind - the few stories I tell you happened over the course of two days.
Let's begin, shall we?
Zayd loves getting money. He's a pretty good saver, except he hides his money and he can't remember where he put it. So when he needs it and can't find it, he expects us to give him money because he "has" it. Somewhere. So we are to give him money that he has but cannot find.
Ethan also loves getting money -- most of which Paul and I try to intercept because if we don't, it will end up somewhere in a toy box or an empty plastic water bottle named Bob (please see earlier postings) or in the sand box. This becomes particularly troublesome when my parents give him money because they tend to give him too much money accompanied by things they shouldn't say to a 6-year-old with too much money (this will be explained below).
Evan always has money. He works hard at selling cold water bottles in our backyard - which is on the 5th tee of a 9-hole golf course. He does very well for himself. One summer he made $400 and bought himself a nice electric piano. He is willing to give anyone money but his brother Zayd. (Evan has had a problem with Zayd since the day Zayd was born. That might be for another blog entry).
Zachary also always has money. However, because he does not work in any way, shape or form, we have concluded that he makes money by taking money from his brothers. He is infamous for repeatedly saying, "I had $20! Someone stole it from my room!" This elusive $20 has had like... 100 lives.
Which come to think of it may be why Zayd always seems to be misplacing his money.
The four of them seem to always be talking about the money they should have, the money they had, the money they think they have, the money they had and they can't find, the money Ethan took, or the money Zach owes them.
I tried the chore/allowance thing. It doesn't work for my children. Every time they lift their finger they ask if this is part of their allowance or if they can get paid extra for doing "this."
So - Zayd gets $80 for his birthday - most of which came from my parents. My parents also have "issues" with money and they seem to be passing these issues onto my children. My mom has "her money" and dad has "his money." They also refer to each other's money as "her money" and "his money." So possession of money is clearly important to them.
When they give my children money for their birthday, or whatever occasion they see fit, it is accompanied by the following statements:
-This is your money.
-Don't share your money with anyone.
-I want you to spend your money however you want to spend it.
-Shhh... Don't tell your parents how much money we gave you.
-Did you see how much money I gave you? I gave you more than Papa - so you should remember your Nana. (this obviously is said by my mother).
Zayd did something (which falls under the General Bratty-ness category) that led Paul and I to demand he turn over the rest of his money to us. He cannot account for $20.
Me: Where is the $20?
Zayd: I don't have $20.
Me: But you should have $20. You spent $20 on the nerf rifles, $10 at the movie, and here is $30 you gave me. Where's the other $20?
Zayd: I don't have $20!
Me: You don't know where it is.
Me: How do you lose $20? That's a lot of money! $80 is a lot of money! From now on, any money you get from anyone comes to us and it goes in the bank. We are finished with you and losing money.
Me: Don't even start my friend. This is it. You wanna lose more than your money? Keep going and watch what you'll lose.
Zayd: Whhhhyyyyy? I want my money. It's myyyyy money! Nana said I could spend it anyway I wanted to...
Me: Too bad. Nana isn't the boss. We are. The money you get from now on goes in the bank for college.
Zayd then spends the rest of the evening doing what falls under the topic emotional meltdown.
The next morning Zayd uses the bathroom and comes out victorious.
Zayd: I found my $20!
Zayd: In the bathroom!
Me: In the bathroom. You are kidding me, right? You found your $20 in the bathroom.
Zayd: Yes! I am so happy I have my money back.
Me: You don't have it back. Hand it over.
Me: Because you lost the liberty of possessing money yesterday with your actions and today you have sealed the deal by finding your money in the bathroom.
That night after dinner sometime, Paul comes out of the bathroom and says, "Whose money is in the bathroom?"
Me: Well, that tends to be Zayd's hiding place.
Paul: Zayd, why do you put your money in the bathroom?
Zayd: I don't know.
Me: Where was the money?
Paul: In the top drawer.
Zayd: OH! YEA! That's where I put the other money I had that I couldn't find. The money I had from before my birthday money.
At this point I am wondering how is it that couldn't find all the money he had stashed in there at once? I mean, it's a freakin' guest bathroom! It's got room for a toilet and vanity and one person.
I took Zachary and his friend to the mall. When I dropped them off, Zachary wanted me to give him money to buy something for a special friend (you know what I mean). He had JUST spent all of his money on a video game. God knows whose money. I told him I wasn't going to loan him money. If his friend was so important, he should have thought about her (oops) before he spent his money on a video game.
And... and this is a very important AND. Because I know exactly how Zachary thinks. Because I was exactly like him. I make sure to tell him, "And don't borrow any money from anyone else - like a friend."
Low and behold...
I pick up Zach and his friend from the mall and I am immediately shown a lovely gift for a special friend.
Zach tells me, "Isn't it cute?"
Are you kidding me?
I do not get mad at my kids in front of their friends. I will always pull them aside or into another room and have my frank discussion. This time, it couldn't wait. I was really mad.
Me: Are you kidding me, Zach?
Me: How did you get the money to buy that?
Zach: What do you mean?
o.m.g. It drives me nuts when I ask him a clear question and he responds with "What do you mean?"
Me: Zach! WHERE did you get the money to buy that? What don't you understand about my question?
I know what he's doing. However, I would have done it better when I was his age. He is trying to figure out his exit strategy. I.. on the other hand, would have NEVER waited to be pushed into a corner. I would have figured everything out before the conversation began. I always had multiple exit strategies. And at least one "grand daddy" exit strategy that could get me out of the possibilities I hadn't considered.
Me: Zachary. Did you borrow it from your friend?
Me: Did you borrow the money from your friend?!
I'm not going to go on with this particular conversation because the thought of it is giving me a hot flash right now.
Zach finally fessed up that indeed, he borrowed the money from his friend. I paid the friend back immediately and told Zachary he would now need to pay me back with interest by selling water on the golf course. He would also need to take into account the cost of the water (they sell 20 oz water bottles for a buck a piece - they buy in bulk so each costs them about 30 cents).
I go ballistic since the friend is now gone.
I tell him that as part of his punishment he also gets to tell his dad what he did.
He begs me not to make him tell his dad.
I amuse myself by allowing him to suffer for about an hour.
Then... I cave.
The next day Zach decides he is going to sell water until he makes enough to pay me back. He decides this at about 4 pm but manages to make the all the money he owes me by 7 pm.
And this is the great part...
He asks to borrow money from me to go to a movie that night with a friend.
Seriously. OH. MY. GOD. Seriously?
Me: You have GOT to be kidding me Zach!
Zach: What?! WHAT?
Me: Please tell me that you get it. Please, please tell me that you understand why this would make me incredibly mad.
Zach: Well... I'll pay you back.
Me: ZACHARY! You do not spend money you don't have! You earn the money first and THEN you get to spend it.
Zach: But I want to go to the movie.
Me: Then next time don't buy a video game and don't buy a present for your woman and work selling water every so often and THEN you will have money to go to a movie. What a thought!
Zach: Fine - I'll go out and see if I can sell enough before the movie. It doesn't start until 9.
So Zach comes back after attempting to sell enough water in two hours to go to a movie. He does not make enough but does say, "I guess I'll have to go another time." Thank you. I only hope he finally gets it.
Zayd, I am quite certain, will forget that he is not allowed to possess money any longer, will forget that he puts that money in the guest bathroom, and further, will forget exactly where in the guest bathroom he will put it.
I am also quite certain that Zach will soon tire of selling water to earn what he wants to spend and will quickly discover that Zayd hides his money in the bathroom. Which means all this crap will start all over again.