My kids are old enough to have opinions on our socioeconomic status, and they don’t care that cello lessons and SAT tutors are accoutrements of the upper middle class. They see we live in a very small two-bedroom apartment. I tell them our apartment is nicer than some peoples’ houses. “We have Limoges china! We have crystal chandeliers!”
My son says everyone who comes over says, “Where does your mom sleep?” And he hates having to tell them I sleep in the closet.
I don’t tell him my closet has golden stripes and hearts on the wall and it’s just exactly how I want it. I’ve said it before and he doesn’t care.
Instead I admit the kids feel like we’re poor, and I decide we need chores. Because a very long-term study from Harvard found that poor kids are happier as adults they do chores as kids, and I don’t know if poor is perception or reality in that study but I want to cover my bases.
Trying to teach a life skill I don’t have. My younger son wins a lot of money playing cello, and I am always struggling to get him to save some. He has pointed out that I don’t have savings either. Which is annoying, because that is not part of my lesson.
So I told him his job is to find coupons. He goes to places like Couponobox.com and finds coupons for things we weren’t going to buy. And when I say no, he uses his own money to buy the thing on the coupon and then he feels good about his chore.
Underestimating how much the kids will love the chore. My son hurt his shoulder from playing League of Legends too much. He told me he needs a new chair and showed me one that costs $1000. I told him to put a bag of peas on his shoulder to ice it. And stretch every hour. Then I told him he could use the massager that Mynt sent to me.
I tried to think of a lot of things to tell him to do so it’s annoying and he thinks twice about letting his shoulder get hurt when he’s playing video games.
But he loved the massager. And he ate the peas. And asked for more. And it turned out to be not so much a chore day for him but a spa day for him. And a chore day for me.
The wild goose chase as parental respite. At the grocery store I said, “Everyone get a cart and get food you want to eat, and then no one will tell me there’s nothing to eat.” (This is a good example of how parents pretend to say commands which are actually prayers.)
I tell the kids if they ask me for soda one more time I will kill them. They tell me they will call child protective services. They think this is funny after our visit from CPS for doing our homeschool paper work incorrectly. (Note: the person from CPS said she likes my decorating.)
At home I tell them I read about craft cola. They don’t appear to care, so I tell them it counts as part of the grocery shopping chore.
They read. And I don’t even care that they’re not putting groceries away. I’m just happy to have some quiet.
Delegating that which is easier to do myself. Why am I am always running errands? The kids are old enough. So I sent them to the post office multiple times. Each time the postal clerk asked the kids insane questions (did you seal that envelope yourself?) and would not mail the letters.
So instead of learning how to run errands, the kids learned how to evaluate alternative business models to the post office. They settled on Neopost. It’s for small businesses, so it doesn’t fit our needs. But maybe now the kids will appreciate that I get paid to know how to register a company and launch a startup. Wait. Just kidding. The only thing kids appreciate is when they don’t have to do chores.