I have been reading Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma. Kay Wills Wyma has 5 kids, ages four to fourteen and she asks the reader, " Do your kids expect clean folded clothes to magically appear in their drawers? Do they roll their eyes when you suggest they clean the bathroom? By racing to make their lives easy, have you unintentionallyy reinforced your children's belief that the world revolves around them?" The author was dismayed by the attitude of entitlement that her children had so she put together an "experiment" to clean house of entitlement and introduce her children to basic life skills (like picking up their clothes off the floor and making their beds)and at the same time teaching them many ways that work can be meaningful while also building their self-esteem/confidence and concern for others around them.
I was hooked after the first chapter...wow, she has five kids and she is on a roll to teach them the value of work in the home and these kids are buying into it (well the younger kids are - the teen is still rolling his eyes and giving attitude). So I KNOW I can implement some of her ideas into my own kids...surely I can teach my two that "cleanliness is next to Godliness." I mean she had a fail proof system -- MONEY -- I mean what kid doesn't want to earn some spending money?????
So following her example, I got two Mason jars and labeled them (one for Caleb and one for Brenden). I went to the bank and traded 3 twenty dollar bills for 60 one dollar bills, split the money between each jar and began my own experiment. I sat the boys down and explained to them the premise behind the money jars: the money had thier name on it but it still belonged to me until they actually earned it. The plan was they would make their beds each morning, pick up any toys on the floor before going to bed at night, take their dirty clothes to the laundry room each night, and for good measure I added "not arguing and no bad attitudes" to the mix (hey you do what you have to do). Every day I would check their progress and remove a dollar if things were not done properly (as well as a child thier age could do things). I would also remove a dollar for negative behavior such as the arguing and attitude. Any money I remove from the jars will go back to me and I can use for it some indulgence such as a pedicure!!!
They were excited about "the experiment" and during the first week they both lost about $3 (not bad since they could have lost anywhere up to $7 for the week). We were on a roll, beds were getting made, clothes picked up, toys picked up and very little attitude. I was impressed at how my boys were handling things!!!
Then came the morning when Caleb got into his head that he wanted mac n cheese for breakfast and nothing else...(I should have just caved and made the mac n cheese since his Aspberger's and OCD were NOT going to move away from the idea) but no, I just tried to reason with him that I planned to take a dollar if he didn't adjust the attitude; the next thing I know he is slamming down $27 on the counter telling me "to just take it, take all of it....I want mac n cheese for breakfast" ummm, yeah the experiment was going south fast. Needless to say we made some compromises and all was back on course or so I thought.
Later that evening we had another attitude problem with Caleb...where eventually, he slammed $3 dollars down and again just said, "take it, it is all I have left, just take it." I am stunned -- not by the attitude, but by the fact that just that same morning he had $27 and I took $1 for attitude, so doing the math...he should have $26 not $3. So I begin to question why he only has $3 and where the heck is the money that should be in his jar (which by the way I placed in their room on their shelves). So I go upstairs to find the jar and discover that it is indeed empty...I look in Brenden's jar, count his money and he only has $7 (I knew I had only taken $3 from him so definitely there was money missing from his jar).....I am starting to boil at this point...there is $40 missing from the jars and I am getting no answers from my boys at this point but I know foul play is amiss. The other thing that concerns me is that the neighbor kids were over playing in their rooms earlier in the day...I am beginning to question if they might have taken the money...surely not...but you never know.
So a trip across the street to the neighbors house to see if they have the money or might help shed some info on what happened to the money...ummm, yes the two neighbor kids had the money alright...
The neighbor kids sold my kids an XBOX and a Playstation 3 for $20 each....the only problem to this was that 1) my kids had NOT earned the money...it wouldn't be theirs until the end of the month and only what was left in the jar would belong to them; 2) the neighbor kids didn't tell their grandpa (they live with him) about the sell; and 3) my kids gave the money to them without getting the merchandise....
My experiment is a total FAILURE!!!!! I have completely failed as a parent!!! My kids have let me down and I have let them down....I am just so disappointed and trying not to become angry at the situation (oh, who are we kidding...I am FURIOUS and I want to beat them!!!) All the while sweet hubby is smiling thinking these boys made a great deal....they bought an XBOX 360 for $20....that is he thinks they made a great deal until I remind him that the boys were out $20 each without getting the merchandise.....yeah, bust that balloon!!!!
I have not given up on "the experiment" yet....I mean if Kay can get her five kids to buy into the experiment then by golly I can too....I only have 2 kids to work on. So we re-group and emphasize that the money isn't yours until the end of the month (that is if there is any left by then!)
For now the doctor is out....wondering if "the experiment" will help remove entitlement from my own home...
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