Then I asked them to brainstorm clarifiers and list them under each expectation — do homework, put homework in backpack, don’t yell, don’t lie, put toys away, put dirty plate in sink, make bed, pick up stuff on floor, put dirty clothes in laundry basket.
“Great! We will start tomorrow,” I said.
After dinner I called downstairs on our intercom, “This is your last freebie reminder. Your dirty plates are still on the table.”
I nearly severed my tongue within the first hour of our experiment, but was successful in skipping reminders. An important question still hung - how long should I wait before I complete the chore myself and garnish the allowance? I tested a half-day grace period.
Next morning, Deena (age 9) bounded up the steps and raced to the counter, relieved that I had not discovered her abandoned Polly Pockets. Patience is a virtue.
Later, while Curt devoured his after school snack, I walked past with his dinner plate from the night before, scraped it, and placed it in the sink. Then I silently grabbed a pen and wrote the garnishment on his chart. His audible groan screamed, “message sent” without my speaking a word.
The rules worked.
On February 1, I delivered at least ten ignored reminders by 4:00 PM. On February 2 — none.
We christened Friday as “payday” and celebrated it with a family meeting at the dinner table. Deena scrutinized Mom’s allowance deductions and Curt counted his change, while we discussed the results of the past week’s experiment.
“How come you and Dad don’t have rules?” Curtis asked.
“We follow the same ones you do,” I defended.
“But what if you DON’T?” he pressed.
Hmmmm. We were not getting an allowance, so a “wet-willy” was about the only consequence that came to mind.
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