Monday, May 2, 2011

Consulting Fees

When I leave my older kids in charge and head out, which happens frequently with track season going on, I, at times, receive phone calls seeking  help in solving conflicts  help in breaking up fights   advice.  This is usually something like, "He won't let me have...." or "She's not letting me...."

To be honest, it makes me a bit crazy.  My job as mom is not to play referee, and I know that if I do it now, they will only learn that mom'll bail them out.  My feeling?  Oh, no, I won't.

So, here's what took place this past week....

I met up with the Warden at the high school track meet.  On my way, the phone rings.  Surprise!  On the other end, I hear not one, but two voices--each on their own extension.  (Note:  As I'm referring to these children as Child A and Child B, please note that they are school-aged).

Child A:  Mom, she's not letting me.....
Child B (interrupting):  Nuh uh.  I was going to let him after he...
Child A (interrupting):  But it's not fair....
Me:  Wait.  Is this something you guys can solve yourselves, or is this too tough, and you're willing to pay my consulting fees?
Child A:  What are they?
Child B:  Nah. I can solve this.  **hangs up**
  Sidenote:  I know child B's thinking, "I'm older and in charge, and I'm right, so I'm going to get my way no matter what."
Me:  My fees are (thinking quickly here, cuz when this conversation started, I had NO IDEA we were going to get to this point.  Kind of hoped he'd've hung up and said he could handle it) for every minute I'm on the phone consulting you, is a minute you work for me when I get home.
Child B:  No.  We can figure it out.
Me:  Great!  I'll talk to you later.  Just remember to think about how you're both feeling, okay?  Love you.


Phone rings.
I'm sure you're surprised by that.

Child B:  Mom, I've asked [A] to do the dishes, so we can do what you asked but...
  (btw, I can hear Child A in the background arguing with every word Child B is saying.  It was clear he felt he was being treated more than unfairly.  Ah the injustice!)
Me (interrupting):  So, are you saying you want to pay the fees this time?
Child B:  Yah, okay, I'll give you a dollar.
Me (who NEVER has cash on hand):  Deal.

It was shared with me that Child B had had each kid that was home pick two jobs to do.  I had asked that they have lunches made, homework done, and the house clean before they turned on a show that afternoon.  They were motivated because we don't usually watch anything until Friday, so this was a real treat.

Child A had been given three jobs because he had need of repaying me for taking some note cards to him at school that day, so he had been assigned dinner for the night as that repayment, but he also had to repay Child B, who had watched the little kids while I'd run up to the school--thus, the third job.

I consulted Child B that Child A still had his agency and could choose whether to do it or not.  If he didn't do it, either the show would stay off, or he'd have to go to his room while they watched it.  I know, you can hear it now, huh?  "But Mom, that's not fair.  If we do the work, we should get to watch."

"Let me talk to your brother."

He gets on the phone and is beside himself because of how unfair life is.  THREE jobs?!!!  "But they only have to do two."

So, I start in.  I remind him that he has his choice to do it or not.  Yes, he should do the two because that's fair, but remember, "You owe [Child B] just as much as you owe me.  If you do it, great, we're both paid off, but if you choose not to do it, I will remember not to bring you things up to the school any more. By the way, how's dinner coming?"

That was pretty much the gist of the conversation.  Then we hung up.

I was curious to see what I'd find when I got home.  Guess what.  He chose to do it, and we had tacos for dinner.  They were good.

Oh, and I got a dollar out of the deal.

I guess my point here is that, as far as I see it, if a child can do it him/herself, he/she should be allowed to.  Also, as their mother, I have the responsibility of being the example of how adults should behave.  I need to show them that I'm not their doormat.  Yes, there are times when I need to step in, but those times should be few and far between--like if they're in danger.  As much as possible, they should be allowed to work things out themselves.  I have no doubt that my kids have good brains and need to use them for what they're intended.  When I step in too much, I'm showing them that I don't think they can handle it.  Truth of the matter is, most of the time, they can.


Kati said...

Consulting fees? I love it! I am going to remember that! You have such great parenting ideas and you inspire me to be a better mom :)

Lena Baron said...

AWESOME!! Have you printed your blog yet? If not, I suggest you make a chapter(or separate booklet)on your "Parenting Skills and Tips" when you do, and I will buy it! You think I'm kidding. I'm not!

Kimberly said...

Oh are the BEST!

John said...

That's really good. I need to take notes here.

vaxhacker said...

Love it! Your approach to the situation, and the transcript of the phone calls. So familiar! I do think I need to let mine work out their issues more between themselves, though, but it's hard when one is more dominant and the other more reserved. I want them to learn to work out their issues but don't want to let them establish a relationship where one just steamrolls the other all the time, either.

I'd totally buy your parenting tips section of your blog.

Rory Baxter said...

wow - it is no wonder that you are in the running for mother of the year. Your ingenuity and go gettum' attitude is giving your kids everything they will need in this life and then some!
Thanx for sharing all of your amazing talents and gifts.

Lia London, author said...

This is the point in the concert where I stand up with a lighter swaying back and forth and let out a sustained WOOHOOOOOO!!!!!

You're paving the way for the rest of us, Julie! Lead on. I'm learning from you all the time.

Oyama Family said...

Yes, lead on...I need your great ideas to follow. I love this little episode and will have to stick in my back pocket for when mine are these ages :)

Crazymamaof6 said...

Omg you are the love and logic master! Amazing.

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