Thursday, April 24, 2014

How I Lost My Marbles

Marbles have become the currency of our household.  Do something nice, get a marble.  Help around the house, get a marble.  Do your homework, get a marble.

They're bright, they're shiney, and just what young children want.

Except the marbles aren't for them, they're for me.

We didn't have a strict chore-chart or requirements for our kids until about two weeks ago, when all the noise, and fighting, and general chaos common to a household with many young children finally caused me to emotionally snap.

I don't know what exactly snapped in my head, but I think it was along the lines of, "I'm working two jobs trying to provide a good living and future for these kids and they won't even show me the kindness of responding to me when I call their names anymore.  That's it!"

The weather was agreeable enough, so I put coats on them and said, "go outside until I figure out what to do with you."

I went downstairs and Dani and I talked about my concerns.  Feeling like the kids were just taking and taking more and more from me everyday and not really giving anything back (even emotionally) in return.

Now some ancient history.  I am the grandson of a man named Henry.  Henry was a man too stubborn to work for anyone else, so he started (what became) a successful car dealership in the 1950s.  After my dad had finished doing work for him on a particularly hard day, he was given $1.40.  My dad asked, "Is that it?"  to grandpa, who then took him to his bedroom pointed at it and said, "how much are you paying me for that?"
  Dad, still a kid said, "Nothing. . ."
  "Well, there ya go."  and Henry walked off.
I am the emotional and biological descendant of that man.  I understand what he was thinking here.  It's not that he didn't love his son enough to provide for him, it's that he did the work needed for him to survive without any tangible return on it.  The tangible return is an important thing for people like me.
Having the unconditional love of my children is nice.  Having them hug me and say they're happy I'm in their lives is what keeps me going.  Believing they'll do great things with their lives is nice, having them excel on their school work or in a particular skill set is what motivates me to work harder as a parent.
And, by golly, marbles are tangible.

So, now, every time they do something that takes them a step closer to being self-sufficient, we give them a marble or two to put in a jar.  The current exchange rate is about $0.20/marble, and they can easily earn 4-8/day, with an effective maximum per day of 18.

And, until the fighting stops and I get some of the more meaningful tangible benefits back, they owe me two marbles a day for their room and board.  I'm pleased to report that all my kids are paid up through the week.  It's stupid and immature on my part, but it keeps me going--and I hope they'll learn some basic money-management skills in the process.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....