Monday, August 2, 2010

Under Capitalism Man Exploits Man; Under Socialism the Reverse is True

You know that super annoying song about the Magic Bus and what may or may not be the rising cost of drugs and/or a transportational booty call to a proverbial baby each day? My apologies if you are a fan of Pete Townshend, but honestly that whole I want it, I want it, I want it droning riff at the end grates me every freaking time. Which is why it sucks to be me with this little ditty in my head for the last couple of months. I want it, I want it, I want it (You can't have it). A duet, really, something that Zoey and I have been singing back and forth since she discovered the commercials between cartoons (Zhu Zhu Pets! Silly Bandz! Ariel Barbie that lights up in the bath and ohmygodmomshechangescolors!), plus the plastic blister-packed crap on grocery store end caps and those damn $12 mylar balloons at the checkout. I want it! I want it! I want it! (Possible variation: I want THAT! I want THAT! I want THAT!) Second verse, same as the first.
So I did what any good American Capitalist Mom would do and I told Zoey that she had to earn it. What? All of it. First with Happy Faces on a little chart I made, and then with miniature fake money I bought (from the end cap at the grocery store: this particular dough having been fortified with iron-y).
I explained that every time she does something extra good like clean up her toys or let me cut her nails without running away she will earn one pretend dollar. But every time she whines or doesn't listen to me I will take one pretend dollar away. When she earns ten dollars we will buy whatever is at the top of her list. What can I say? Democracy gives every four year old the right to be her own oppressor.

So far we have not risen above $2, the elementary algorithm of subtraction so much more difficult to swallow than that of addition, i.e. I want it by its very nature difficult to say without whining. A lesson to us all...Meanwhile, Bryan thinks my pretend monetary system is sick, the dollar bills not so much an educational endeavor but a conditioning tool hellbent on raising a bill-thirsty consumer, as if trading in Happy Faces for material goods were any better.

So I ask you (You the People, a democratic vote): is making my daughter actually earn plastic shit teaching her that Gordon Gekko was right, that greed is good, or am I teaching her the value of time, good behavior, a dollar, even if it is pretend?

Before you answer I should tell you: I did give her one fake buck for posing for the above pics, though let's be real--I should've given her $10,000 just for waking up.

Too Much the Magic Bus.


Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

I do plan to give my kids the opportunity to earn money to buy things that they want by doing things that otherwise are not expected of them.

However, I don't want to start giving them money for things like good behaviour, because I want them to behave well because it is the right thing to do and not because there is a dollar in it for them. I don't want my kids to always be asking "what's in it for me?" every time I ask them to do something.

I also don't want to take money away for things like whining, because I know that I whine sometimes too and I think it is healthy for us to express our emotions. Sure, there are better ways to do that than whining, but we can work on that together!

Appletree said...

Coincidentally, my kids just cashed in their hard earned $10 on Zhu Zhu pets. It is a slippery slope though.

jennifer said...

hmmm, interesting conundrum. i have a 3 yr old & 7 yr old. I haven't used this method with either. We have been considering the idea of "allowance" for our soon 8 yr old, but mainly for the use of learning about saving. ie: you do x and get y$ then you put a$ in bank & b$ in pocket. but all she wants (or has ever wanted) are books & lip balm so it's a win-win.
our soon 4 year old only wants what her big sister has so, you guessed it, books & lip balm. and as long as she has "a piece of cash" she's happy.
i guess i'm not sure what you outta do on this. We don't have a t.v. and i think that fact alone intercepts 99% of the I wants. But everybody wants something, eh? I'd rather raise an Alex P. than a Mallory . . . i think.

A Perfect Gray said...

I'd estimate that one ga-zillion dollars per day for Zoey for being so crazy cute would be about right, give or take a little...

Sharon @ Real Estate Resuscitation said...

We've started giving our 4 year old an allowance for feeding the dog. Recently she went bonkers for a pillow pet she saw on a commercial. I told her she had to empty her piggy bank and buy it herself. So, we went to the store and she bought her kitty pillow pet with $21 in quarters.

I do kind of agree with what A Perfect Gray said though.

mosey said...

When I saw the words Magic Bus, I must admit the first song that entered my head was from the kid's show Magic School Bus. It's now playing there incessantly and just goes to show where my brain is after six years as a mother.

I still don't let my 6yo watch cable just *because* I don't want her to watch commercials. Which doesn't mean she, like Zoey, doesn't ask for silly bands and zhu zhus til the cows come home. I've done a few reward systems for something she's *really* wanted but I don't think I'd use it (it's bribery really) on a regular basis, but I don't know what to suggest either. This year she'll be old enough to start an allowance, but I'll expect certain things to get done for her to receive it.

It's all conversation though. I sometimes ask her to wait a few weeks and if she still really wants the item, and we have the $$ to pay for it, then it becomes a possibility. Gah. This stuff is all the most annoying part of parenting.

Kelly said...

My father gave my brother and I a weekly allowance based on our age (9 yrs old = $9). It was never given as payment for behavior or completing household chores because we were expected to do those as part of our family. But my father was pretty smart about this - he knew that if I was paid to do the dishes the implication was there that I did not have to do the dishes and would forego that particular payment. It forced us to participate in the family. The allowance was usually spent too quickly on whatever crap we saw on commercials at the time - but that was our money to spend.

I don't know if the fake dollar system is good or bad. It's a known fact that kids respond to bribery in all methods so if it works you may not want to question it. As for the effects it may have in the future...only time will tell.

Rachel said...

i can't speak to this issue as a parent, but i work full time as a nanny AND i am a socialist (not the scary kind, just the keynesian kind i promise lol), and i'm a big fan of bribes. kids are kids. they can't be subjected to our adult ideologies, imho, and only care about food and toys. i bribe all the time, and might actually implement your play money idea. but then again i take care of two boys, 8 and 9, so i've become a little jaded. your darling little girl (so jealous!) is probably different

Amy said...

Yeah, I don't know. Money for good behavior -- I wouldn't tie those things together. When my daughter wants something, I tell her she can put it on her birthday or Christmas list, and occasionally I reinforce the fact that she won't get EVERYTHING on that list. The act of adding it to the list usually distracts her long enough to get over the "want" of the moment. She also doesn't watch anything beyond short DVDs (this is not an anti-TV preachy statement at all, it's actually that between preschool, running around after her cousin and demanding that we bake more muffins, we don't have big slots of time for TV beyond the commercial-free shorts). It's a tough one, though, isn't it? Eh, Zoey's rad no matter what.

Petunia Face said...

Hm. You guys are making me rethink my governmental teaching method. Maybe I will water it down somehow. Though to be fair (uh, to myself), Zoey does have one chore (feeding Nacho) which she does unrewarded because she is a member of our household. And she does like the concept of earning...Though I don't want to equate acceptable behavior with monetary gain.

Like I said: Hm.

Chelsea said...

we used to wash the neighbors cars for ten bucks a pop. we were makin' that money baby! My parents encouraged it! Looking back though, those neighbors ripped me off, having me babysit for 6 hours making 20 bucks for the night! wow!

Those pictures are so crazy! you are such a cute mommy!