Jun 26, 2008

Boy Stories

It's been difficult to keep up with my blogging following our re-entry into Canadian life (love that word - re-entry. Like a spaceship coming in for landing). In addition to the usual time constraints of a hectic household with two adults working and kids in elementary school, we've had to hammer out renovation plans, not to mention catch up on our social life after a year of hermit-like existence.

Progress has been made, however. In addition to the kitchen being ordered, we've started dealing with the mess that was the outside of the house. We still have major demolition to do on the inside, but this won't start until the second half of August. I'm dreading it, but happy to have a few weeks of reprieve in July.

Today is the last day of school for the boys. It's a half day only, after which we are going to a local Italian restaurant for a buffet lunch. Do all kids love buffets, or is it just mine? The empowerment of having a choice, I suppose.

Christopher's developed this incredibly irritating habit of saying 'what' all day long. In the vein of:

"Christopher, it's time to go to bed."
"What?!"

"Christopher, come eat please."
"What?!"

"Chistopher, don't talk like that to your brother."
"What?!?"

All said in that tone of annoyed incredulity. Like he is so hard done by, and the rest of us are out to get him.

Ugh.

So this morning I implemented the "A dollar for every 'what' out of your mouth" strategy. In fairness, it was implemented across the board, we will all pay when the word is used improperly. After 10 minutes of eating breakfast, Christopher is already 4 dollars poorer.

I'm optimistic the message will get through this way - if there is anything Christopher is fond of, it's his cash.

This is in stark contrast to Benjamin, who freely gives away his money to anyone who asks.

Sounds cute, doesn't he?

I used to think so, but not anymore. It's a problem that Benjamin is willing to give anything he owns to anyone who asks. Some of his friends have started to take advantage of this opportunity to score freebies. One friend in particular is always asking for toys, candy, anything he can get his hands on. Just last week, Mike caught him red-handed, as he tried to leave with 10 of B boy's dollars after a play date.

We're trying to teach Benjamin that it is not appropriate to give your things or your money to friends. And of course, it is not appropriate for friends to be asking, but if they do, it is OK to say 'no'.

All while striking the right balance and maintaining Benjamin's natural sense of generosity.

My fear is that Benjamin feels he needs to buy his playmates' friendship. Where does he get that from, and how can I make him see that this is not the right way to make friends? Any words of wisdom from you, my internets?

We are jetting off again today. A week somewhere warm. I will be online for most of the time, and I plan on finding a little time for bloghopping.

Hope everyone's having a good week!

48 comments:

Rima said...

Oh, that's hard, and I don't really have an answer for you. Unfortunately, it seems like something that he might have to learn the hard way. It's too bad that it doesn't always pay to be a trusting and generous soul in this world, huh?

jenontheedge said...

My younger girl is generous like your boy. I can only suggest that perhaps you should frisk his friends before they leave the house.

I'm kidding.

How about reminding B before every playdate that he's not to give anything away?

the dragonfly said...

So are you buying something special with Christopher's "what" money? ;)

I'm with Rima, it's sad that a person who is trusting and generous can be taken advantage of..

Laura said...

Those are all challenging lessons for the little people to learn!

Karen MEG said...

That is just so Benjamin; he really is such a sweet soul, Heidi!

Well, I have to tell you, Lboy is so VERY IMPRESSED with Christopher's 6-pack! He came home and said "Christopher has a 6-pack. Does Dad have them?"

I had to laugh, and said, yeah, Dad has them, hidden somewhere under a few flagons of wine!

Have fun and see ya when you're back! xoxo

Dawn said...

I think the right thing was done by explaining to Christopher that it isn't appropriate for his friends to be asking for those things but if they do...it's o.k. to say no. It's better that he learn now. You're probably already showing him other way that he can still be generous...perhaps with non-material things? I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Amber said...

A dollar for every "what"--I love that idea.

I would be a millionaire if I instituted a dollar for every whine.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

I have no advice for you as both of my kids are extremely selfish!

Enjoy your vacation!

Chantal said...

Oh poor B-Boy. When I was a kid I was like that (although I didn't have any money). I remember giving away this special watch I had. Someone asked for it and I didn't have the heart to say no. Afterwards I was sad I had given it away and I tried to ask for it back. I was mortified to ask and then the person said no. They would not give it back. To this day it pisses me off. But I learned my lesson. It was a hard one. But the truth is, I still had a hard time saying no (to some extent I still do).

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Happy last day of school!
OOh, I am so feeling your pain on the 'what!?'s, I hear them at my house too. ugh.
Sounds like you are dealing with Benjamin positively, sucks to have to teach them those lessons.
Have an amazing vacation and looking forward to your photos too!

Amy said...

My oldest son was very much the same way - he is a definite people pleaser. We just try to make him confident and build him up. He is much better about things now. I am sure your son will be the same way!

She She said...

Cash can be such a great motivator.

Misty said...

Brother has friends like that, who ask for everything in his room. When I found out about it, I gave a lovely lecture to them about how, since Brother is 7, everything in his room was actually purchased by me, and is, therefore, MINE.

That worked, of course. But I have an idea that the kids of the neighborhood think I am a giant witch. Meh.

Mrs. G. said...

My daughter was like this-she was giving and willing to always hand over the choice of what to do to her playmate. Like you, we had many discussions about boundaries and not letting people take advantage of you, and I am happy to report that there came a day when she just got tired of it.

But we did make a house rule that no trades or transfers of any goods could be made without the approval of a parent-this gave her an easy way to say no to greedy visitors. Good luck.

shay said...

"what?!"

jk lol. I'm struck daily with the crazy differences between my kids. I sometimes wish for some sort of a handboook:)

I have one that is motivated by cash and cash alone. I potty trained him by giving him pennies. the rest of the kids just wanted candy!

Ree said...

Oh, honey, I feel for you. Shortman is the same way with whatever he has. He's outgrown it a bit - simply because of getting burned by "friends", but every once in a while, he reverts. I love his trust, but scared of him getting hurt.

Kathryn said...

Aww. What a dear boy that Benjamin is. How sweet is he? I love that! It is important for you to tell him he doesn't have to do that. I can only imagine that he would eventually get to feel taken advantage of. Still, you're right, it is a delicate balance. Hmm.

Amy Y said...

Hope you have a fun trip!!

We've been charging the boys 25 cents for leaving their lights on when they leave the room. Normally they are really good at being conservative with electricity... So far I've only collected one quarter from each kid. And Tyler caught me leaving the bathroom (hands full with bath stuff) with the light on and I owed HIM a quarter!

B boy is too sweet for his own good, eh? I wish I had good words of wisdom for you here! :(

MamaGeek said...

I think your Benjamin really IS too sweet for his own good. I have no advice, only a melted heart. Anyway, I feel ya.

Now have a fun trip!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Mrs. G has got it just right--we had the same rule with the generous-spirited in our house.

I know it's kind of a girl series, but one of the "Francis" books addresses this issue perfectly.

jen said...

a week somewhere warm....

sounds perfect.

Annie said...

The money thing so works. Trust me. I paid my children a quarter every time I said one phrase. I've learned not to say that phrase any more and they are all the richer for it!

Barrie said...

Yes, my kids all love buffets. Me? Not so much. It is strange, isn't it, how different kids from the same family can be? I have one particularly generous soul as well.

Heidi, would you be interested in posting a blog next wed. july 2 with a recipe for a side dish, salad or desert? Maybe something Norwegian? Doesn't have to be though.

Let me know, and I'll link to you. :)

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

It's funny, the phases kids go through. Just when you get through one, they go into another...and you find yourself on the brink of yanking your hair out. Good luck with the "whats" and the charity giver! :) (They'll be on to their next phase soon...)

Stomper Girl said...

Four dollars during breakfast is pretty amusing! Those catch-phrases they repeat are so annoying, and the ones my 7 year old tries out, like "Darn it!" and "Not!" (after he's said he'll do the exact opposite of whatever you've asked him as in I'm going to make a big mess...Not!!) are of course then repeated by the parrotty 4 year-old. Drives me nuts.

As for your generous B-boy, how sweet and how terrible. Could you have a word to the parents of the greedy friends? Sounds like their children need pulling up a bit about their behaviour...

Beck said...

One of The Boy's friends is constantly giving him toys - little cars and the like - to such an extent that I actually phoned his mom to make sure that a) The Boy wasn't ASKING for them and putting the kid in a weird position and that b) he was allowed to give them away. ACKWARD!

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, these life lessons--they're so hard!

Have a great trip...

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Oh, I hope you have Internet!

Also, I added you to my blogroll. Sorry I was slow on that. LOVE your blog.

Alpha DogMa said...

Uff. My son has picked up some lovely phrases too. If he only had money for me to extort. Hmmm...maybe it's time to start an allowance.

Valarie said...

So, WHAT exactly are you going to do with this money that is piling up in the "what" jar??
I would maybe try saying something to his greed friend. Maybe if he is slightly embarassed that you know he is trying to take advantage, he won't ask anymore. I think you have explained it well to your boy, so just keep reminding him. He'll get it.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

Hi heidi! I have something for you over at my blog :)

carrie said...

I am going to borrow that tactic to battle the "whats" at our house! That is brilliant!

MadMad said...

At least your son leaves on his "t's." I get the "Whuhh?" kind of what. Even more annoying, if possible. Oh well. I used to wear bright purple eye shadow to bug my parents when I was a teen, so there could be worse things, right? Hope you're having a wonderful vacation!

gmcountrymama said...

We say "what" way too much also, including myself. I have even heard the dreaded "huh?" now and then. The dollar thing is a great idea. Maybe we could fund our next vacation by taking the kids allowances.

Julie Pippert said...

Sometimes I feel like your parallel life.

I am a hoarder and my sister is a distributor. (There I am, simplifying us into single labels. Sigh. Hopefully you know what I mean, just in this way.)

I think, for us, in the end it was for the same reason: we were both trying to bring in what we needed and fill holes.

I think our natures responded to our situation.

I would hazard a guess your son is just like that: in the moment, wants to please his friend, wants to make people happy, enjoys giving.

My sister often regretted it, later. So that's the angle we took: when you feel the impulse to give in the moment, think forward to later---will you miss this? regret it?

She took time to learn to think beyond the moment and the strong desire to please and be generous, and the emotional reward from that, to the much longer and longer-lasting regret that might come.

I think you are teaching him the right things. But he'll have to learn them on his own. I think this might have to come from dealing with some natural consequences, such as your husband perhaps yes, stopping the friend and getting the cash, but then keeping it rather than giving it back to your son.

I'd also enlist my friends' help. Tell them you are working on it and ask if they and their kids can help. I think that's a good approach.

My daughter has come home with things from friends and I lecture her about taking people's stuff. One time? A lampshade. No joke. I said no way and we returned it. She was miserable and angry with me b/c her friend GAVE it to her, but when she saw the friend was in trouble for doing so and the relieved mom to get the lampshade back, she settled down.

As a parent, I want to teach the other side of the lesson, too.

God luck and what a busy time you have, with so much travel and renovations. GOOD LUCK!!

Victoria said...

Hi! My Boy owes me a buck for every "I'm just sayin'!" which drives me nuts. He currently owes me $9.
Re: your generous one - we has very similar issues - my Boy once gave away $20 in two days. So we made the rule of no giveaways or "gifts" with approval from a parent. We also "upped" his charity donations, which satisfied his desire to give so generously, and know that there were more needy causes than his mooching "friends". =)

Sorry I've been MIA!

kim-d said...

Where are you, Heidi? I hope you're not out rounding up all of B-Boy's possessions that he's given away! :) I know that you jetted off, but you said you'd be online...miss you!!!

painted maypole said...

we make a general rule that you have to ask a PARENT before you give anything away, and you have to ask a PARENT before you accept something from a friend.

Nora Bee said...

My friend's husband is like that--would give anyone the shirt off his back. Now he's a lawyer defending the little guy to social security. I say preserve the sweetness at all costs (toys). Silly advice from a dreamer.

katiez said...

From play time in Norway to house renovation.... You need a break.
We'll start our own huge project this fall, expect lots of complaining.
I have no thoughts on how to curb giving away and leave the generosity.... That is a challenge - but, rather a pleasant one, I would think - or, at least pleasant to have a gernerous child ;-))

Maddy said...

Transitions, don't we just love them! As for 'wot'! At least they heard you dearie!
Cheers

Anna-borderline-bonkers-banana :) said...

I miss you.

kimmy said...

I hope you and your family are having fun wherever you are!

Kimmy

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I struggle with the same thing. The Princess is so desperate for affimation...she is willing to do whatever it takes!

Why don't you set him up with some sort of charity? Then he can give some to them....instead of being taken by his so-called friends!

Chantal said...

I tagged you with a meme (i know, don't do it if you don't have time) but I thought with all your business and changes, your six word memoir might be interesting... http://chantal-blogaholic.blogspot.com/

E said...

Maybe it's something in the name. My own Benjamin once gave away his bike when he was sevem to his friend who had never had a bike, because "I always have had one Mommy and he never has"

More of a blessing than a curse really..you'll help him find the balance

Nadine said...

I hope you all had fun in the sun! It is fall here. Rain, wind. I am wearing a sweater.


I hope Benjamin learns not to give things away and say no. Although it sure does sound cute.

Victoria said...

I miss you. Hope all is okay.