Yakima Mom

All Things Mom

Delaying Gratification

Remember that Veruca girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

“I want an Oompa-Loompa and I WANT IT NOW!”

You can’t help but dislike her conceited, demanding, snotty little self. For me, it’s not so much the wanting that bothers me, it’s the refusal to wait, to delay gratification.

I’ve ranted a bit about this before. In an effort to make sure our kids feel loved and are well-liked and that no one is better than them—it seems that many of us parents buy our children way too much stuff, way before they need/want it.

You know what I mean. You’re shopping with your 12 year old daughter and she spies the cutest scarf and there are only two left and it’s on sale.

“Oh, Mama! Please?” she begs.

Attempting to teach responsibility you reply, “Well, do you have money?”

“Well, no. But I’ll clean my room as soon as we get home. And you can give me some now, then not pay me my allowance. And I will clean the cat box and empty the little garbage cans in everyone’s room too!” (Because those are her chores, and she hasn’t done them).

Oh, and did I mention there are only two left and they’re on sale? Tears ensue…”I promise, promise promise…”

I cave.

I remember—bear with me now—when I was a kid and we had to wait for stuff. We waited a long time for big things…like until Christmas or a birthday. Or, if we really wanted something badly enough, we worked and saved up to buy the coveted item ourselves.

When I was about 12, I wanted an English saddle. It was nearly $200, an unattainable amount for a 12 year old making three or four dollars a week. So my dad, bless him, said he’s go “halfers” with me. He figured if I really wanted something bad enough I’d be willing to work for it, and he would match me.

Well, halfers made the saddle seem attainable, and in about three or four months, we drove to Seattle and got the thing. I was flat out broke afterwards, but I had something I’d really wanted and I’d worked for it.

I think all children have a little bit of the burning pocket syndrome when they’ve got a little cash, but my 10 year old Jack is a prime example. He will get a card from an auntie in the mail with a nice crisp $20 in it. “Can we go to the store?” he’ll ask as it flutters to the floor.

“Why? What do you want to buy? I query.

“Oh, I don’t know. I need to look around and decide.”

This is typical. We’ve had the discussions about saving for a rainy day. His brother, and even his sister have shared about the great things they’ve bought after saving a while.

No go for Jack. “Well there is something I’ve been wanting…” he’ll tell us and then think of something he’s passed in a store at sometime. That money’s not just a burning in his pocket…it’s a real torch!

Anyway, we’ve been trying to address this issue, making Jack pay for things on occasion, which he does cheerfully if he happens to have money. So the other day, when Jack announced that his xbox mic was broken and he needed a ride to the store to get a new one, I asked if he had any money.

Instantly, he was on the verge of tears. “Well no! But I NEED it! I can’t play with my friends without it!”

I suggested he do some yard work with me. I figured two hours would be fair for a $20 reward. I outlined up the tasks needing to be done.

“All that?” he looked incredulous.

It wasn’t that much, and I figured if he really wanted the xbox thing, he could work for it, right?

Well, long story short, it took about 48 hours to get those two hours out of him. I didn’t nag, I just kept pointing at unfinished tasks when he’d come up and ask, “Am I done yet?”

There were tears… and stomping… and milk breaks and rests. Eventually, I figured he’d done his two hours. We had another nice chat about saving for times like these when something breaks.

This weekend, he asked to go to the game store.
“Do you have money?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” he said, emptying his pockets of about $25 cash.
“Where’d you get that?” Dad asked.

“I’ve been saving,” he proudly replied.

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