Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Materialism, Moms, Kids

This morning Bean had a very serious look on his face as he told me that he wished he had kept a friend's birthday gift for himself. As I noticed the hurt look I thought of the friend mentioned, and realized that the gift purchased and given was BACK IN DECEMBER. 2013. It was a Lego set of a type that Bean has recently become quite fanatical about, especially since there is a tie-in cartoon of the Lego series now on Netflix. He has been watching it every day when we get home from work and day camp, while I am making dinner.

I try not to get annoyed but I can't help it. The friend who received the toy in question is the kid who seems to have everything. I really like his mom and I always wonder how she gets by as a single mom, with two kids, a mortgage, and under-employment. Every time my kid gets excited about a new toy trend it is because this kid, and a couple of others, brought the toy to school and made it the next big thing. All of these kids have single moms, and I don't know how they do it. Maybe the dads buy the toys out of guilt. I don't know.

When we bought the Lego set for the kid's birthday last year, my son was so proud to give it to him because he said it was "rare." It is really cool to have a "rare" set, and since this kid seems to have everything already, Bean thought it would make this gift special. As it turns out, his friend did not have this set, so it might have been special to him. I don't know for sure. Sometimes the kids get doubles and end up trading half the pieces away anyways.

It really bothers me that my kid is so attached to little bits of plastic. I can't figure out if it is the toy itself, or the status that it gives him amongst his friends that he craves. He is so attached to his friends, and they are pretty good friends, even if they are materialistic.

I wish I could contact the other moms and see if they would be willing to go on a "toy ban" for a few months. It is really hard to teach my kid that material things don't matter when so much of his friendships are based on materialism.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Will a paper route suit?

For a couple of years I have been telling Bean that his first job will be a paper route. Most semi-responsible people I have encountered started their employment history this way, so it seems like a good thing to do. Kind of like what working at McDonalds was when I was much younger (except now anyone under 18 rarely gets to work in food services, since adults moved into that sector when the good jobs disappeared).

I even bought him a wagon for xmas in 2012 to encourage him, and figured we would have a route by his 7th birthday. However by that date I didn't think he was ready and would find it more of a curse than a blessing. Also I'm still a bit hesitant because as kids, my sister had a route but pawned it off on me (without pay!) so I know how much work can be involved.

And I never knew how low the pay is!

The route I have a lead on is for "the free paper" in our town. We will deliver to 27 houses on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and the pay is $22 for two weeks work. My calculator tells me that this works out to be 13.5 cents per house, or $3.65 for (hopefully) an hour's work per night. That includes putting the papers together, walking up to the next neighbourhood with our wagon, and delivering. Rain or shine. And I would probably be doing Fridays on my own since Bean goes to his dad's (in the big city) most weekends and leaves on the bus right after school.

When I worked at a Pizza Hut in the late 1980s I made $3.70 an hour, and that was indoors, so you can see why I might be hesitating again. I currently consider my time valued at $25 an hour, after taxes.

Currently Bean does not get an allowance, because he does not do any chores around the house. I can't think of anything for him to do. When I was a kid I unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the glass tables with glass cleaner, set the dinner table, and washed the bathroom sink. I think I was 10 or 11 when I took over these chores, but I think I started getting a weekly allowance ($2) when I was 7. I told Bean that if he wants an allowance he must do a few things around the house but we didn't come up with a plan. We don't have a dishwasher and he barely reaches the kitchen sink!

If we take the paper route he would make $7.30 a week (I might take the $3.65 for doing Fridays, and put it in his piggy bank as savings), which is a pretty good amount for an 8 year old. It would be a lot of work (maybe!) for a little bit of money, but it would be his own money. He could decide to save or spend it, a lesson we have already been working on for awhile with his birthday money.

I guess we will do the paper route. I need to find out if there is a contract, just in case we hate it and need to quit.

Side note: We don't have any after-school activities lined up for September. Soccer will be finished, and I am letting him quit karate because he is just not that into it. He finished level 3 in swimming and didn't want to continue on. He wanted to go into basketball but the games are on the weekends and he is usually away at his dad's.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Place on Earth

Re-blogged from Fifty Weeks:

In heaven the beer is Belgian. The bread and cheese are French and the beaches are Brazilian. The waves are from Australia and the landscape from New Zealand. All the prices are Cambodian.

In heaven the soup is Vietnamese but the goulash is Hungarian. The city squares are Czech and the meadows are Irish. The bars are Irish too, but you don’t need to go to heaven to find an Irish bar.

In heaven the wine is Italian and the mountains are Nepalese. Dinner is Indian and lunch is Thai. Breakfast is Spanish and served just before going to bed. Whatever the meal, the steak is from Argentina.

The nights are short in heaven because the days are Swedish and it’s always July. The trains are German and always on time. The drug laws are Dutch.

In heaven the sun is Greek and the rivers Lao. The golf courses are Scottish. The composers are Austrian and the school children are Korean; I didn’t spend long enough in either country to nominate anyone else.