Resolution Tuesday #6

This morning, already late for school, my Youngest came out of his bedroom holding his iPod and looking forlorn.   

"Do you have an extra set of headphones?"

For some reason, which I do not actually understand, I always do have at least one extra set of headphones.  I think they breed in the top drawer of my file cabinet.

"What happened to yours?"

"I don’t know, they just don’t work."

I would like to point out that just yesterday I informed this child that the floor was perhaps not the best place for electronic gear since placement on the floor mightily increases the chances of something being stepped on. 

He must have seen something – shall we say, judgmental? – in my face because he hurried to say:

"I’ll pay you for them."

"OK," I responded, "we can figure out later how much you should pay me for them.  They are used after all."

He nodded eagerly and grabbed the headphones, heading out the door before I could change my mind.  As he reached the door, when he knew he was well out of reach, he threw the following over his shoulder:

"I should get a family discount too, right?  Even stores have a family discount!"

At which point, with a smile on his face, he gently shut the door.

So, since Resolution Tuesday #6 got crushed by my feminist drum-beating yesterday, I thought I might use today to ask myself – and you, if you feel inclined to weigh in – what would be the least amount of mothering I could have done/should now do in this situation?

1. Take back the headphones today and make him go to a store to buy new ones with his very own money.  Retail. 
2.  Sell him the headphones with just the "used" discount.
3.  Sell him the headphones with both a "used" and "family" discount.
4.  Give him the headphones. 

For all I know, they were his to begin with.


8 thoughts on “Resolution Tuesday #6

  1. Mine are so much younger, so it is hard to tell. I have a tendency to give away to even non-family members things I am not using, so if I were true to your non-mothering credo, I’d probably give them for free on the theory that it is better for the environment than him buying another pair.

  2. Depends on the lesson here. 1)Are we teaching responsibility? 2)Are we teaching that good stuff doesn’t belong on the floor? 3)Are we teaching to give things away that aren’t being used?
    Because he offered to pay for them and you agreed to discuss it… that’s where you’re headed. Remind him once of the offer (if time passes) and then repo them claiming that he didn’t pay for them. When the deal is set leave it at that, but you may want to throw in a reminder that you aren’t a store and if things like this happen in the future you’d be willing to lend them to him, but he must purchase his own.

  3. We go through a lot of this. I try to center on teaching Trust — he trusts you enough to tell you that they were broken, not hide it, thereby escaping an I-told-you-so. In my Mom book, you’re doin’ something right. 🙂 I want my kids to know that I’m on their side. They aren’t stupid and can figure out the “leaving things on the floor” lesson themselves. Just might take a few things being destroyed first. If I can replace them, I will. If I can’t, I won’t. Our relationship and trust are more important than the things that get broken while they are learning.

  4. Why don’t you teach him how not to throw stuff on the floor? And that, when he does leave his possessions neglected on the floor, there are consequences. If/when he goes to college and persists on throwing his stuff on the floor, his roommates will neither care nor offer him to bail him out repeatedly. It’s part of the overall job of teaching responsibility.

  5. Thanks all. TO be fair to Youngest, I am not sure they broke because they were on the floor – they may have just died in the way of all electronics! I have decided to sell them at a steep discount (used plus family) because that seems to line up with the idea that life can do a lot of the teaching if you allow it – i.e there are consequences to owning electronics (which will break no matter what) – but nothing terrible comes from smoothing out the consequences a little if I can….And as I said, it is possible they were his from long ago!

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