Saturday, December 16, 2017
"No, you can't fill the sink and wash your horse."
"No, you can't slide down the stairs on your butt."
"No, you can't pretend the guinea pigs are your puppets."
"Oh, and please remember to shut the freezer all the way after you've opened it."
"We do shut it!"
"No, you don't."
So many no's nearly everything single day, that if they weren't kids with still-developing frontal lobes and personal awareness and impulse control, they'd probably be posting bad reviews on the parenting-as-business equivalents to Glassdoor, kununu and Indeed. If you're not familiar with these online platforms, they're employer job sites and review sites where job candidates and employees can post anonymous reviews about their job search and employment experiences with any particular company. Candidate experience is real for both kids and adults and can be positive and negative.
So, like talent acquisition professionals everyday, we as parents are in the business of no. Except that we're not saying no to 99 out of 100 different people who are applying for our jobs, we're saying no 99 out of 100 times to our children who are doing questionable things and who aren't doing the jobs we want them to do.
Over and over and over again.
It comes with the parenting territory. They are the raw talent and we're doing everything we can to teach them well and skill them up. To the point that one day they'll take what we've taught them -- combined with what they've gleaned from peers, teachers and even other bosses once they start working for reals -- they'll take all that and apply it to their future world of work. Maybe even apply their maturing #BhivePower as we like to call it, their aspiring gumption, and become entrepreneurial to make their own way for themselves as well as many others who may work for them someday.
"No, you can't dump any more of your tiny Shopkin toys onto the floor, but you can start picking the ones that are out and everything else on the floor. Please. Now. Thank you."
"Yes, right now."
"It's so unfair."
"Pick up your toys."
"And please remember to close the freezer after you've opened it."
"We do close it!"
"You do not -- not all the way."
"We do too!"
It comes with the kid territory. To want to play, play, play and then not put anything away (or shut freezer doors all the way). But once they're old enough to start listening and taking care of business, no matter how much they fight it, then it's a win. And then you have independent contractors under your roof that aren't subject to federal, state or local employment laws. Contractors with benefits who benefit us.
No, we don't have them making t-shirts for sale out the of garage, so no need to report us. But we do want to instill a sense of responsibility that comes with some tangible rewards, like the money to buy the tiny toys they love to dump out onto the floor and play with.
At first it was the one-off's, the "please help me clean off the counter and you can earn a dollar to buy that thing you want." We've done that for the past couple of years and then the Mama (what I affectionately call my wife) more recently developed a chore chart and we've graduated the girls to an allowance. It's a weekly paycheck of sorts that they can make up to $X -- but only if they complete their chores. Otherwise, their allowance will be commensurate with what they actually do, something that's definitely non-negotiable in our little world of work.
Is it the most effective and efficient application of chore doing getting done? Of course not. Have you seen our daughters clean the kitchen counters off with a cleaning wipe? Tiny concentric circles that swipe quickly across the counters, only moving bacteria from one concentric circle to another.
Life hacks gotta start somewhere, though. And at some point we definitely need to depend on our children to help get us keep the house in order and get the stuff done that needs doing, week after week, day after day. It should serve them well into young adulthood, and at least for now it's working. Mostly with our oldest, Beatrice, although Bryce will come along (if she wants the money).
It comes with the parenting territory. They are our gig economy kids and we're doing everything we can to teach them well and skill them up with enough (mostly) positive life experiences that will offset their eventual personal upsets and downsizes.
Later, after they've gone to bed, I say:
"The girls still aren't shutting the freezer all the way, and every time the temperature just climbs and climbs, and I'm the one who has to shut it tight."
Pause. The Mama shrugs.
"Honey, relax about the freezer door. It's not the end of the world. I try to make sure it's shut."
Pause. I shake my head.
"No, I'm the one who shuts it all the time."
Pause. The Mama shrugs.
"Hey, at least they wipe their own butts now."
Pause. I nod.
"Sure, but they don't flush all the time."
Pause. The Mama shrugs.
"So, you'll make sure they close the freezer tight?"
The Mama walks away.