Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Parenting Lessons With Mummy McTavish

I don't claim to be a parenting expert and this is in no way a "how to" guide... more of a "how NOT to"...

Since this day Lion has been drooling over one very special police motorbike.  He spotted it on the Lego website, we checked it was available in Australia and checked the approximate price.  Then he had to wait... until we went to the shops that afternoon so he could buy it with his money he had saved up.  Thing is, it wasn't at that shop.  So instead of waiting until he found it at another shop he picked something else.  Mummy should have pulled rank at this point and said "No, save your money and wait until you find it" but she didn't.  Lion cried that it wasn't there, Mummy told him she couldn't change that it wasn't there and he could save his money OR PICK SOMETHING ELSE.  That was the mistake... he picked something else... but still had his heart set on his police motorbike.  Fast forward to Monday this week.

(image from here)

We were browsing the toy section at Target and he spotted it... his beloved police motorbike.  Problem: 80c in his wallet, another 50c at home.  Okay, mummy knows how his heart is set on getting this precious piece of plastic so she offers him a range of options...
1. leave it on the shelf until you earn the money.
2. leave it on the shelf and we go home and you can do lots of extra jobs over the next couple of days to earn it faster and get it another time.
3. Mummy buys it now and puts it in the Mummy Shop and you can earn money doing extra jobs and buy it from the Mummy Shop and have it as soon as you have earned the money.

Cue meltdown that Mean Old Mummy (M.O.M) wont just buy it for him and let him have it straight away and "I really will do extra jobs for you".  M.O.M sticks to her guns and reiterates the options.  Eventually he selects option 3 and we buy the precious piece of plastic.

Now,  should you have this scenario play out in your family DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT EVER DO IT THIS WAY.  I thought I was sick of hearing about the silly bike BEFORE we bought it, well I just about went insane listening to him beg and plead for jobs to do and "how long til I get it?" and "how much of it have I earned so far?" and "can I just have the pieces that I have earned?"

(created by Lion on the Lego website here)

I got him to clean the playroom (yes, something that he should do anyway) and he thought I should give it to him then... but I got him to clean his room (futile, but he did it and it stayed clean for about 10 minutes) and he thought I should give it to him then... but I got him to help set the table... and tidy up Monkey's toys... and a few other odd jobs.. and I was well and truly sick of him asking me how much to go.  I needed a BIG job, one that would test his patience, one that would require a lot more work than a quick tidy up, something that isn't on the vague list of things that kids should just do around the house... something that would make him realise the value of the item he was earning.  I had one job like that tucked up my sleeve.  I had a job that would be 5 minutes for an adult but a bit trickier for a kid.  I had a job that had been waiting for me to get to.  A job that needed to be done properly, to my standards not just something he could fudge his way through.  That job was wiping all those disgusting hand prints and ick off the doors, door frames and kitchen cupboards (they were bad, oh boy were they BAD).  I use a natural cleaner so it was safe for him to use.  He (along with his brother) put most of the prints there so he can reach them all.  It would keep him busy for a while and I could tell him once and for all that once this job is done to my satisfaction HE COULD FINALLY HAVE HIS POLICE MOTORBIKE!  He did the toilet door and frame, his bedroom door and frame, the garage door and frame, the wall next to the fridge and all the lower cupboard doors and drawers in the kitchen along with the dishwasher front.  I even made him re-do a few bits (because don't forget I am M.O.M) and chatted with him while he worked about doing jobs to earn rewards and doing jobs because we love each other and want to help to keep the house nice.  Then... FINALLY... he was finished.  He could have his box of plastic bits and bobs and put them together to create his bike.  It has since been made and unmade 15zillion times and it is precious, I believe all the more precious because he had to work so hard to earn it... I'm not sure he even remembers that bit anymore.

(created by Lion on the Lego website here)

So my advice to parents everywhere... I got this wrong from the start, do not offer to purchase a product for your child "until you earn it".  Thankfully this was a $7 product so with the money he already had plus his hard work it didn't take too long to earn.  Problem is, now he has designs on a MUCH bigger set... like $130 bigger... that's some serious work to earn that one!

Now I just have to deal with the "mummy, come and have a look at my police motorbike" and it's sitting on the top shelf of the bookshelf... "mummy, come and have a look at my police motorbike" and it's sitting on the middle shelf of the bookshelf... "mummy, come and have a look at my police motorbike" and it's on the table... "mummy, come and have a look at my police motorbike" and it's on the floor... "mummy, come and have a look at my police motorbike" and it's back on the bookshelf... "mummy, come and have a look at my police motorbike" and I'm guessing you get the picture by now!

It really is a precious piece of plastic... maybe, just maybe he does remember how hard he had to work for it.


  1. I will remember this. The Lil Miss had her heart set on a Lego Bellville horse stable set for her birthday - only problem being that it is completely out of stock in the whole of South Africa. It is too big a present for any other occasion, so after many talks,we have now placed it on next year's list. Now I will have to buy it as soon as I see it to make sure it is not out of stock again come the silly season.

  2. Adorable Hubby calls Legos, "Nick-Knack plastic crap give a dad a groan".

    I love the lesson! I tend to give up from all the whining. Way to stick with it, Mummy.

    I'm going to have to introduce a few of my boys to the Lego site. That way I'll get even less computer time and therefore will, of course, use all my extra time to do My chores.

  3. It will be interesting to see the fallout from this lesson. I'm sure we will hear more from Lion about what he would like to earn. I wonder if this would work with Dragon. I think Dragon would dig his heels in, but time will tell.

  4. Tis a hard lesson to learn, the value of money and why can't I have it now?
    I share your pain with you, we have had similar experiences. I started to share them with you and then I thought I'd spare you.
    Nathan asked why was I looking at Lego pictures when I don't even like it. I then explained further (and said I do like Lego most of the time) and he said you must be very smart to be able to write so much about Lego. So there you are!
    We do have said Lego item, but it's wheel/axle is now broken. It was a source of much angst.

  5. Oh my word! Could he be any sweeter? I think he and my Bruiser would get along famously!

    By the way, I LOVE Boy Mom's first sentence!!!

    Mrs. NB

  6. It is so easy to give in.... trust me I know but at least he had to work for it. I'd never have thought of that!

  7. So I guess nobody should tell him about the lego police helicopter?? ;P


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