Wednesday, March 17, 2010

bauble backfire

I think parents put too high of expectations upon their children.

It's bad enough that we demand them to learn all their colors and shapes before the age of three, but to insist that they actually play with the toys that we buy for them is going over the top. How could we possibly expect such an unrealistic burden?

The other day I got fed up. I couldn't remember the color of Roman's carpet (which is pretty bad considering he has the same carpet as the rest of the house) and I was plum out of creative ideas for cleaning manipulation. My sister-in-law told me an idea about hiding all of the toys if they didn't pick them up. Brilliant. So, I set the trap by asking him to clean his room. And waited.

Sure enough! Four hours later, the clutter still waited to be uncluttered. I sent him outside to play and dashed in to clean his room (ironically it only took me fifteen minutes) organized the toys by like and lugged five full totes in the dark basement. And waited again.

Roman came in and right away noticed his clean room. He excitedly thanked me for it, then slow realization dawned like a flying squirrel that jumped a foot shy of his landing.

"Mom, where are my toys?"

"Well, Roman, because you wouldn't pick them up I had to. So now they are mine."

Cue flowing tears and ensuing anger.

"How do I get them back?!?!"

"Well, you have to earn them back. Here is a basket of laundry you can put away."

Even though the whole point of the plan was to motivate him to work, I was still surprised when he immediately started folding clothes without complaining. My plan had worked!!!

Over the next few days, however, his motivation to earn his toys back decreased as he soon found new toys to play with. I was flabbergasted as his room slowly started becoming messier and messier, but this time with things like the five bags of Sleeping Beauty pullups that I had bought for him (I was actually kinda grateful that he was getting some use out of them). A handful of my kitchen utensils. Cardboard boxes. I couldn't believe it. My plan had backfired. Why should he bother working for real toys when he had an abundance of laundry baskets and shoelaces to play with? In fact, it has been a good two weeks, and he hasn't even asked about his beloved dinosaurs still waiting in the dark basement waiting to be saved.

I think they will be waiting a long time. I guess in the mean time, I am back to the drawing board.


Leserlee said...

I guess it's time to take away the pull-ups too, hunh? Yeah, I don't know what to tell you. Except "good luck".


Funny story. Sometimes my mother would pick up all of our left out belongings, and we had to earn them back. Another strategy she used was that if we didn't clean - she would sit us all down in chairs in the messy room, and she would make us watch her clean. We couldn't help her, even though we begged.

You'll be happy to know that children - who don't care about their childhood home being clean - grow up to want their homes looking orderly and beautiful and work hard to make that happen.

You're a great mother Brigette!

Lee and Melody said...

Wow. That's sad and funny at the same time! I would suggest telling him that you heard his toys crying for him to come get them...but that might scare him. :)

Bingham Family said...

LOL and more LOL!!! So sorry and I have been there oh so many times! Toys to the garbage, toys to the basement, toys to goodwill... I have done it all and it sounds like too many toys huh? My girls have just lost their dressup bin because of the EXACT same thing... (no floor in their bedroom). The funny thing is the neighbor girls are missing the dressups more than my girls are. Arg!

Hillary said...

I feel your pain, too. I've done everything to try and help the kids have an easier time cleaning. First I bought all sorts of organizing bins and drawers and even labeled them (with pictures even, for the little ones who can't read). That didn't work. I downsized like crazy to make sure they didn't have more toys than storage space. I finally gave up and bought all 3 kids toy boxes for their rooms. How much easier can clean up get than just throwing all your toys into a toy box? But they STILL have issues and fight me like crazy! I have no idea what to do. So yeah, I sympathize!!