My son is a stealer. My seven year old son is a stealer. A sticky-fingered thief. A robber. A taker of money that doesnt belong to him. And I’ve never had a son who’s a stealer before. And I missed that chapter in the childrearing manual – the chapter with the heading ‘How to raise children that will NOT become hardened criminals and spend their days evading the FBI, the CIA and smooth talking agents of the British Secret Service.’ So I’m boggled. And bothered. Puzzled and pickled. It started with 25 dollars nicked from his big brothers room. the 25 dollars the big brother had sweated his butt off mowing the lawn.Little son took it to school. And bought ice pops. 50 of them. For all his friends. And friends of his friends. And friends of his friends friends who probbaly have no clue who he is.
We were horrified. We ranted and raved. I wanted to smash him. But im happy to say that i didnt. ( trying very hard not to be usual run of the mill child abuser here you know) I considered taking him to the police station. For a chat with an accomodating officer. Who could maybe scare him a little with the whole “see this prison cell? No Xbox or Mcdonalds takeaway in here you know?!” But the husband said that might be a tad bit inhumane. So instead there was a serious chat and a removal of privileges.
Then two days later he took coins from my room. Okay, so they were coins. Five dollars worth. I ranted and raved. And wanted to smash him. But i didnt. (still trying very hard to avoid the child abuse mold)
The very next day, he did it again. And then again.
Clearly, a different strategy was required. No – not a smashing him strategy. ( i thought about it!) None of the other children have ever even shown an interest in money before. At least not that young. The 8 yr old still thinks that one dollar is better than two ‘becasue its such a pretty shiny gold’ and she prefers the pink-red of a five tala note to a green hundred dollar bill. But here, we have a child who wants money. what does he want it for? To buy ice pops at school. Lollies from the shop. Chips from the corner store. And as i puzzled over it it dawned on me. Its a GOOD thing he wants money. Its a GOOD thing that he understands there is a connection between money and getting stuff. The bad thing is that he’s taking OTHER peoples money to get the stuff. Solution? Tell him I will GIVE him money when he works for it. Do a job – get money. Work – get money. Work harder – get more money. No work – no money. Take money – get punished.
We explained the new deal. And the lights went on in his head. And at 6am this morning as i was enjoying my saturday sleep in – this seven yr old woke me up. “Mum, whats my job? Im ready to work!” He weeded. PIcked up rubbbish. Weeded some more. And by lunchtime, he was the proud owner of his very own two dollars. (okay, so im breaking the child labor laws AND on these rates he aint never going to be a millionaire…)
Its early days yet. But hopefully, i have taken the first step to a bright and shiny future for this son. Instead of one where he calls me from jail for bail and chocolate chip cookies OR asks me to drive the getaway car when hes planning a hit on the Westpac bank at Vaitele…instead, he will be this mega rich and wildly successful man who wants to give his mum lots of money all the time because a long time ago when he was a seven year old stealer – she taught him the secret to acquiring money. Work – get money.