Some of my kids nag incessantly for money. They say they need sunglasses, because if they don't have them, their eyes will hurt on their trip to Alaska, or if they don't have a new IPOD, they will get too bored during the flight to Alaska, and perhaps get into unexpected trouble. Or... they need new pants because their old ones are too small, or too wrinkled or the wrong cowboy brand.
Then others play the martyr, saying with a sad countenance things like, "No, I don't want to go to the mall with you. I have no money, so what fun would it be," or "I sure wish I could afford these earrings. They're only $10, but I don't even have that much."
My kids seem to think, or hope, that these tactics will work, but they rarely do. I did give into the 14-year-old boy and bought him two pairs of jeans but I told him that they were his birthday present and he shouldn't expect anything else.
Now, let's contrast the above behavior to that of the 11-year-old boy. All of our kids have ample opportunity to earn spending money. The 14-year-old boy has mastered the art of the chocolate chip bar cookie, and sells these at school to awaiting crowds. The 16-year-old girl caters meals to parents who would like a break on a Friday night, and makes quite a bit of money when she's actively involved in this pursuit. These endeavors, however, require time and labor, both of which the 14- and 16-year-old children declined to expend recently. Thus, they went to Alaska penniless.
Now, back to the 11-year-old boy. Yesterday he was pacing around the house with his hands in his pockets, his head down, repeating, "I'm so broke." When Grandma walked into the room, he asked her if there were any ways he could earn money. She said yes, and listed a few very difficult, dirty jobs he could do, with a big paycheck as a reward. One job was to hack down a 20-foot hedge of bushes that had died during the hard freeze last winter, and the other was to sweep an enormous covered patio of a several-months build-up of dust, rottweiler hair and other debris. These were jobs that even I, a seasoned laborer, wouldn't want to do, but the 11-year-old boy rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He finished the brush job in less than half the time we thought it would take, coming to me midway through and stating that he was getting too strong, stronger than metal even, because he had broken the hedge clippers and a screwdriver.
As far as the patio job, there was so much dust created that he had to wrap around his nose and mouth a damp rag in order to complete the job. When I told him I wanted to take his picture, we were standing in the garden area of my mother's yard, a lovely, potted-flower and ivy sitting area, and I raised to camera to my eye, but before I could take the photo, he suggested that we take it in the patio area where he had been working, where the air was still thick with dust. Great idea!
He is now nearly $100 wealthier than when he arrived at Grandma's, stronger, as he pointed out, and obviously pleased with his accomplishments and more confident in his ability to complete a difficult task. I'm grateful he sets such an amazing example to his siblings, bother older and younger. You rock, 11-year-old boy!
Thanks for listening!