He’s Way Too Young Yet To Lose His Mind For Those Precious Seconds…It Didn’t Happen To Me Until I Was At Least Fourteen!

Our particular suburban area has a big reputation for parents who let their kids run the show and get whatever they want, from electronics to cars (and I’m not talking ancient fixer-upper cars; I mean new ones) without expecting even a “thank you”. Unfortunately, although the reputation wasn’t earned by 100% of the parents around here, it is quite accurate in many cases.

One of the many things I am very proud of is that we are raising the boys to earn for themselves many of the things that their friends are getting from their parents just by asking for them.

By doing really well at the middle school fundraisers each fall, the older boy earned his iPod Mini in 7th grade and a check for $200 in 8th grade. The younger boy earned a phone (ack! I hated that thing though…and it broke within weeks) in 6th grade and the $200 check in 7th grade.

We give them $20 per month for hot lunches–if they use it ALL wisely they could get 4-5 hot lunches each month (and they bring lunch the rest of the time), but we allow them to keep whatever they don’t use, so they mostly get hot lunch once or twice each month and save the rest.

By saving that lunch money and their allowances, as well as money earned by walking the neighbor’s dog, babysitting (older boy) and cleaning the salon once a week (older boy), they have purchased various technology items including a video camera (younger boy) and a laptop (older boy). As you would expect, they take care of these items like they are precious cargo because they know not only how hard it was to save for them, but also that their parents aren’t going to jump in and replace these things if they get broken or lost.

Unfortunately, after his laptop was 18 months old, the screen cracked from his carrying it around the house in the “Open” position and it was unfixable for a reasonable amount of money. He saved up religiously again and decided to get a desktop computer for his room (NO INTERNET) so that it would hopefully last longer and not be as “fragile” as the laptop. (Oh, uh, and yeah…so he wouldn’t crack the screen by carrying it around wrong!) In the meantime, the younger boy has been also saving like a madman since his brother got his laptop, because he wants a computer for his own use (NO INTERNET) as well.

Well, Halleluyah, this week they were both ready to get their computers. The other day the fifteen-year-old and I went to the HP website where he had researched what he wanted. I helped him order it and put it on my credit card. He will reimburse me in cold, hard cash when the bill rolls in.

His printer and monitor arrived today, and I brought it in from the porch and put it at the top of the landing in the living room.

After school, the thirteen-year-old asked for help in ordering his computer. We went to the Dell website where HE had researched what he wanted. I helped him order it and put it on my credit card. Same drill about the reimbursement business except, just as we did with the older boy’s first computer purchase, we are putting $100 towards it since he’s using it for homework. He was very excited to get it ordered and ran upstairs to his room to figure out what he had to move in order to make room for everything.

I went to the kitchen to clean up for a bit and a few minutes later, heard him running down the stairs, nearly tripping over the boxes I had brought in from the porch.

“IT’S HERE ALREADY????????????”, he screamed excitedly.

I laughed and said, “No!! That stuff is your brother’s!”

He suddenly realized how ridiculous the idea was, of getting your computer delivered directly to your living room 15 minutes after ordering it and sheepishly said,

“OH, right….”


  • Kat

    I second Lindz. If I was to have children I would want to raise them totally like you. You and your husband have my utmost respect for raising two truly awesome boys.

    LOL about the 15 min room delivery ..he must have been so excited, I bet these 15 minutes felt like days for him 🙂

  • Kat

    Oh yeah and not to put too much pressure on you after just having successfully released your first book…you should totally write a second one on parenting ;o). You rule!

  • Melisa

    Aww, you girls are making me blush. You’re very sweet. We are, as I wrote, really proud of the way we do certain things, especially living in this area where it can be so hard to try to raise down-to-earth kids. Being consistent is HARD!

    I always remember, when Julie and I were little, that our parents would often tell us (after being at someone’s house or out in public with family friends or something) that the other adults gave us high compliments for the way we conducted ourselves, and that they were proud of us. Now, I get the same compliments about my kids (I learned well from my parents, I guess!) and it is such a joy to know that overall (of course we all have our moments! LOL) these boys are OUTSTANDING individuals in part because we’ve worked hard at the way we’re raising them.

    Thanks for being so sweet…I promise I didn’t post all that so I could get a bunch of compliments (but I like ’em…LOL).

  • Mom24

    He sounds so cute! He will really enjoy it when it comes, that’s for sure. I love your approach on parenting. We tend to give our kids everything they have…it’s not excessive, and they’re not greedy, but I like the idea of their earning more. I’m going to have to think about how maybe we can work on that!

    How’s your foot coming? I hope it’s starting to feel better.

  • Kat

    No need to blush. Credit where credit is due, really.

    In this day and age not everyone is doing a great job in raising their kids and more often than not parents look for the easy way out.

    Whenever I come across very well behaved kids I find myself secretly applauding their parents and they deserve all the credit for a job well done.

    Maybe when I have kids you will let me in on your secret on how to stay persistant and how to deal with things when you have been “not so persistant”.

  • Mom24

    We have, what I now know, a really bad habit of carrying our laptop around open, even worse, by the screen. Tell your DS at least his bad luck will help educate an ignorant family. We won’t be doing that anymore! I can’t even imagine not having our laptop!

  • KathyLikesPink

    Oh gosh I am still chuckling over that. Truthfully my first reaction might be the same! When you are super excited about something your brain doesn’t always process correctly.

    Sounds like you are raising some fine young men there. They will be well-suited to get out and face the world. Well done!

  • Andie

    I LOVE how you handle that. Nothing makes me more furious than the sense of entitlement so many of today’s teenagers have because their parents give them brand new cars and other stuff. I had to work for my car and stuff! they should too!

    You should write a parenting book.

    I’m serious.

  • Dea

    I’ll agree with the others – you really should write a book on parenting! I was in Target today, and the woman ahead of me was complaining about how Easter is almost as bad as Christmas – and I said, uh, then don’t buy them the toys. She looked shocked, and said, HOW? It boggles my mind that some people were able to reproduce in teh first place! Kudos for doing a great job with your boys – I hope mine are as awesome as they get bigger!!! I follow my mom’s example, too….

  • Mags

    You’re fantastic parents. I don’t know ANYONE who actually follows through with this. And it’s wonderful that they are learning how to manage money too.


  • Melisa

    mom24/Stacey: My foot is getting there, thanks for asking! It totally stinks, having to modify my activities…but I try to keep my eyes on the “prize”. 🙂 And I’m glad my son might have kept you from breaking YOUR laptop! It was going to be a $600 repair!

    Kat: There’s no secret; you just have to DO IT and know that being persistant (and consistent! LOL) is very, very hard. I think the people who aren’t doing it want to, but they don’t because it’s just plain easier to slack off.

    Deanna: I can TOTALLY see you at the store, saying that to somebody (you get it from your mom! LOL). That’s what I’m talking about: sure, it would be *hard* to not buy the toys (or so many toys, or toys that big and expensive, or whatever), but…well, now I feel preachy. You know what I mean. 🙂

    Thanks for the confidence in my ability to write a parenting book, everybody! 🙂 I’ll consider it after I get done with my other two books and the third book that I had an idea for yesterday, and my magazine articles that are on my to-do list and the laundry and the grocery shopping….I’ll keep you posted! hee hee

  • Don Mills Diva

    Sounds like you are realloy raising them to appreciate that you have to work for things you want – that is a crucial lesson for kids to learn.