Where she got that dollar

My son once paid my daughter a dollar to go away and leave him alone.

I found the little girl in the workshop (sewing machines, not wood and tools, remember?) turned temporary kids’ room by herself on her bed, clutching her dollar.

The boy and his friends were outside, carefree and clearly up to something. They eyed me as I walked past, looked down and picked at their fingernails when I said, “Where’s your sister?”

I’d been in the house, see, the grown-up house, doing some grown-up chore like making dinner or washing dishes or starting the dryer a second time so those towels might actually dry.

I asked the little girl: “What are you doing in here all by yourself?”

She looked up at me with those eyes big as moons and smiled. “I don’t know, Mom!”

She is 3. Going on 9.

I scooped her up. I stroked her hair. I asked her where she got that dollar.

She told me.

And I freaked.

And the thing is maybe I shouldn’t have been so upset at the older brother. Because the little girl? She didn’t really seem sad. No. She simply seemed like a little kid in a room filled with toys, television and food, unsupervised. I wonder if the possibilities felt endless.

To me, however, this wasn’t cool. This brother’s bribe was blatant snobbery, selfishness. It was mean.

I don’t like mean.

So. We went outside. The older kids were still gathered by the tree house. Their voices hushed. Their gazes shifty.

Calmly, I asked my son, who is 7, where his sister got that dollar.

He pretended to be confused. (And I thought the mantra I’d been repeating since he learned to talk – “Never lie to your mother. She will always find out” – had gotten through. Silly me). He squinted his eyes, he furrowed his brow, he shrugged his shoulders.

“What dollar?”

And that was when my eyes flew out of my head, bouncing over the lawn to the street.

The boy old enough to know better went to timeout. He said he and his friends had just wanted time alone.

I reminded him what to do when he would prefer his sister not tag along. (It’s simple: Tell your mother or stepfather you’d like time alone AND THEY’LL HELP YOU! We’re awesome like that). Then I did one of these: “You will stay in time out. Until I figure out what your consequence should be!”

That’s the worst, right? Mom or Dad thinking about a punishment. Oh, man.

I ultimately decided to take the piggy bank away from Mr. Money Bags (he has a wealthy, generous great-grandmother) and keep it in my possession.

How long?! the boy wanted to know.

For as long as I feel I need to, I said. (Yes, I did that, too! Pulling out all the stops.)

The boy wasn’t happy but knew he hadn’t made a good choice. He is amazingly wise and clever and intuitive and has always been great at understanding faults, mistakes, what’s gone wrong.

He accepted his consequence and I gave him a hug and told him I loved him and all that business parents do because we mean it (and because no matter what our babies think, punishing them is no fun for us either!).

And we all quietly got up to return to our lives.

That’s when my daughter spoke.

“Mom?” she said. “Can I keep the dollar?”

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5 thoughts on “Where she got that dollar

  1. Reading this made me think of my kiddos (8 & 10) and their attempts to get some alone time now and then. At first I figured it would be a typical read, until I got to the “piggie bank” mention. We were introduced to “Raising money smart kids,” a several years ago and I had vowed to let every parent in on this little gem, each time I heard them mention that dreaded “piggie bank.”

    You should go check it out. This is the link on amazon, but I got the system straight from the founder, and I believe they have had it on homeschool buyer’s co-op, as well, for 50% off before. It is well worth the price.

    http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Money-Smart-Kids-Kiplingers/dp/1419505165

    **I am not affiliated with this company, nor getting paid by them ( I wish)…I am just a proactive parent and enjoy sharing useful information, as I believe, what comes around goes around. 🙂

    Like

  2. Good going! It sounds like he’ll learn his lesson. So great that you’re willing to help him when he wants some time without his little sister, too. Seems like so many parents make their older kids be in charge of the younger ones instead, which isn’t fair.

    Oh, and your last line made me laugh out loud. So sweet and innocent and just perfect.

    Like

  3. Pingback: BlogHer fame and why I’m still not cool enough to write “booyah” | Single Mom with Love

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