What Determination and Perseverance Will Get You

Determination: noun: firmness of purpose

The only creature more determined than a toddler trying to get a snack 5 minutes before supper is the preteen trying to stay up past their bedtime.

Perseverance: noun: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Parenthood is a game of perseverance.

My last post was about the newest addition to our family. She is the best ball of floof ever in the history of floofliness. I suggest you get yourself one if don’t already have one. At least someone will be excited to see you come home. Though, I have to apologize, we have the cutest one. Úna is our 16 week old (4 month old) fluffy puppy. A soft coated wheaten terrier. I told part of the story in my last post. I’m going to tell you more now.

*side note before I start: you can follow her on Twitter @una_dog* please do. Please with peanut butter on top?

Lola is a wheaten terrier belonging to a friend of ours. It was Lola that made us fall in love with the breed. She is the reason there is one in our living room asleep in front of the fan right now. However, the story started 2 years prior to our meeting.

Bang decided one day 2 years ago that he was going to start saving his money.

Me: What are you saving your money for?

Bang: A puppy.

Once he made that proclamation there was no deterring him. We had made it a Sunday tradition (if a routine can be a tradition) to stop at Tim Hortons for a treat after church. Bang would hork down his Timbits then go open the door for people coming and going. On the odd occasion someone would tip him with a Loonie ($1). One day, a traveler loaded with bags tipped him $10. At the grocery store he jump ahead in line and bag people’s groceries. On occasion someone would tip him a Loonie. Once, he was tipped with 2 Toonies! He did this because he loved to help, the tips were just a perk. All those tips went into his “piggy bank”.

Money also came from birthdays, Christmases, report cards (from grandparents, not his mom and dad), a lemonade stand… Not once did he use any of that money to get something he wanted. He. Saved. Every. Penny. One time, DW’s mom gave the boys $10 to spend at Toys R Us. Crash couldn’t get there fast enough (it was a 2.5 hour drive). When we got there Bang asks, “Do I have to spend mine?”

“No, but I’m not buying you anything.” He came out empty handed telling us he was going to save his money. I don’t know too many kids you can take to a Toys R Us and they don’t want to buy anything. Hell, I have a hard time not buying anything for myself.

A year later he had about $400 saved and we knew he meant business. DW started researching dogs. We couldn’t get a rescue because DW is allergic to most breeds. We needed hypoallergenic. I didn’t want a “purse dog”. That’s right around the time we met Lola. Shortly thereafter we also found out how much he really needed. We also knew we had another year to save because we wanted to get a puppy when we could all be home with it – summertime.

So Bang continued to save for another year. In total he contributed $700. Then he bought the dog bed Úna sleeps on every night.

With determination you too can persevere. You just need the focus of a kid who wants a puppy.

How A Canadian Dime Stopped Traffic in Virgina

Today, here in Canadaland, we received a poorly timed rain. The Heavens opened above us during the second inning of Crash’s ball game and Bang’s ball practice. We tried to wait it out, but waiting wasn’t to be had. The rain was as relentless as the questions asked by children. The rain didn’t quit so we did. Called it a day, postponed the game. The parents and kids of Bang’s group soldiered on. They completed their practice. As my mom used to tell me, “You’re not made of sugar. You won’t melt.” Or, “Don’t worry, shit floats.” With baseball done for the night, everyone went home.

Except the Wood family didn’t go home. With the boys still in uniform and cleats, we went to Tim Hortons. The rain may have been dampening the world but our happiness was rising and swirling with the aroma of donuts and freshly brewed coffee. But I’m not here to wax poetic about a fast food coffee shop. 

We horked down our chocolate chip muffin and cookie and Tim Bits then, just as he always does, Bang went to man the door. Or more accurately, boy the door. He loves to play doorman and open the door for those entering and leaving. One time someone gave him a dollar. Another time someone gave him a coupon for a free donut. While the rewards are nice, he does it for the smiles. 

This evening he was given a quarter for his kindness. An American quarter.

Here in Canadaland, we use the same coins as our southern neighber. Granted, we have a couple extra, the loonie ($1) and the toonie ($2). Like our noisy neighbor, we also have a nickel, dime, and quarter. The coins of the two nationalities are interchangable here. No one takes notice when we use American coins.  

However, in the USA that isn’t always the case.

DW and I used to live in Virginia. It was a cozy, sleepy little hide-away town. The nearest pet store that had crickets to feed a couple anoles I had aquired was an hour and a half away. The return trip crossed a toll bridge. Realizing we didn’t have change or cash to pay the toll we stopped at a gas station to use the ATM. Turns out we only had $19 left in our checking account no access to our savings account because it was 1745 and there were no smart phones. We could not withdraw any of that $19 because ATMs only dispense twenties. 

All we needed was two dollars.

We scrounged around our car. Between the seats. Under the seats. In the glove box. In the center console. In the hatch. Under the spare tire.  It’s amazing all the places $2 will try to hide. We found it. We also found that toll booths don’t take pennies. Finally, after an a decade of hunting and gathering we hand over our change and wait with baited breath for the toll clerk to count it. This is when the cars started piling up behind us. 

She continues counting like she’s the fu*king Kingdom’s Master of Coin. Then she hands me back a dime. A God damn dime!

“I can’t accept this. It’s a Canadian dime.” she told us. We were down to one dollar and ninety cents. 

I explained that was all change, all the money, we had to give her. All we had left were pennies. We aready knew she didn’t want those either. Somewhere in the distance behind us a car horn honked. It could have honked all day, it wouldn’t have given us the dime we needed. Thankfully, by the grace of God, she waved us through. We were relieved to be allowed to return home. 

As were the thousands who were waiting behind us.

Never again did we cross that bridge without knowing first hand that we had the money to get back across it. 

Bang took his American quarter home and put it right in his wallet. He knows three more will get him a cookie from Tim Hortons.

To the Boy in Walmart

Dear Brayden,

You have solidified my faith in humanity. I still believe the world is a good place regardless of all that is happening throughout. You, sir, have scored a point for the good guys. Your honesty, your integrity, your desire to do the right thing has set you apart from so many others.

When Wanda* called me from Walmart this evening after we had just been there, I was a bit nervous at first. Then she asked me if had a son. I do. And I was still a bit nervous. Did she see him do something he should not have? He had wandered away from me for a minute. Then she asked if he had lost anything there this morning or this afternoon.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

I wasn’t aware that he had but I told her I would ask him. So I stepped outside and hollered to Crash*. Then I had to tell Wanda from Walmart that he’d be right here, he had to climb down out of the tree first.

Finally, he came to me and I asked him he had left anything in Walmart. He couldn’t remember losing anything. Wanda asked his name and how to spell it. I told her and she asked if he lost a little red zipper purse (though we call it a wallet). In it was $25. I asked Crash about it and he said it should be in the basket where it’s always kept. He went to look, but of course it wasn’t there.

It was in Walmart.

Wanda told me she made a donation on either behalf of herself or Walmart (I can’t remember which) for your honesty. Wanda told us you are 11 years old. She also gave us your name and number so that my son could call your son and thank him. Which he did. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to connect directly, but instead left a message thanking him.

Your parents are perfecting this thing called parenting. They have themselves a young man who understands honesty. Who not only understands the difference between right and wrong but can follow through with it. Walmart thanks you. I thank you. My son thanks you.

The world is still a good place and you have scored a point for the good guys.

Sincerely,

A Hopeful Parent

*Names have been changed.

Chore Chart Update #2

We now have two weeks of chores under our belts. The chart is working magnificently. It’s easy to use. It’s easy to read. Easily printable from week to week. While Crash and Bang don’t exactly go looking at it for what chores they have to do, they do understand that if a chore gets put on the chart it has to be done. No arguments. No questions. No ifs, ands, or buts.

We stuck to the Sunday is pay day method instead of paying them at the end of the day to let them watch their quarters add up. This way they’re not so tempted to go spend it. But also, because it’s easier.

This week went much smoother than last week. While last week there was much arguing about having to do chores, there was only once this week. Last week Crash complained that it wasn’t fair that he had chores but none of his friends did. Complained that he hated cleaning. Or that he just flat out didn’t want to. This week there was only one hiccup. That came when his chore was to put his laundry away. I’ll give him credit for putting away what was in the laundry basket without fuss. But when it came time to hang up his pants and shirts he had pulled off the hangers in his closet the attitude came out. I stood there and watched him put away the first 3-4 items (there were about 10 in total) before I knew he was back on autopilot and would put away the rest without supervision. Other than that, when it was time to do chores, they got done!

So how much did they earn this week? More than last. Crash earned himself $3.25 and
Bang earned $4.25.Bang earn an extra dollar because he did extra chores. He only did extra chores because he volunteered to do them. No on asked, he just did. He vacuumed the mess that was on the mat by the door. He put all the shoes not on the shoe rack back on the rack. He helped a stranger with her groceries and helped our neighbor in her garden.

While these last two were exactly considered chores, we included them because we wanted to reward him for doing good. Naturally, not every good deed gets rewarded in such a manner, this time it was. I must also point out that Bang did his extra chores without being prompted and without knowing he’d get an extra quarter for doing them. He did them to help. He took it upon himself to do the extra bit of work.

Now, today, they’re home  from school at 10:00 because of an unexpected early dismissal. Since they’ve come home early they think it’s also a day off from chores. I think I’m about to encounter a bit of resistance. Here’s goes! (I’ll let you know later how much of a battle today was).

I uploaded an .xls (Excel spreadsheet) and PDF file in this post if you would like the chore chart for yourself. They are also down in the footer. You’ll just have to change the names. Or not. Doesn’t matter what you call them so long as they’re doing their chores.

Chore Chart Update

So last week I wrote about (there is an .xls and pdf link to the file there as well if you’d like to have it for yourself) how we were going to create a chore charts for Crash and Bang. Well we did. Now we have a week under our belt. How has it gone so far?clean

We decided on a flat rate for each job done instead a flat rate per day. Twenty-five cents per chore. Piece work. So how much did they earn last week? Crash made a grand total of $2.25. Bang earned himself $1.75. They were excited to be paid. I don’t know if it will be enough incentive though. It was like teaching math to a mule.

I explained to Crash that he would be doing chores no matter how big of a fight he put up. He could either do the chores willingly and get paid for them or he could fight and argue with us, still have to do the chores but without pay. It was his choice.

At one point this week, when I instructed him to clean his room, he tried not to. So I sat his bed and told him what to pick up and where to put it. Then he vacuumed his room.

“None of my friends have to do chores” he tried to tell me. My response was simple.
“It’s because I’m not their dad.”

“But I don’t want to clean.”
“Me, either, bud. But we have to and mom and I really need your help.”

“But I hate cleaning.”
“There are far worse things that could be happening instead of cleaning.  Would you rather clean the whole house? No? Then clean the few things I ask you to.”

piggyBang is just the opposite when his big brother isn’t around. He’ll vacuum out the couch or the door mats. He’ll help empty the dishwasher. He’ll help load it. He’ll help me with laundry. He’ll take out the garbage and recycling. When Crash isn’t around. Otherwise he adopts the same attitude.

But there is payment and they now know they’ll be paid because they got their money yesterday. Perhaps we’ll get a roll of quarters from the bank and they can be paid each day. Then perhaps they’ll be more willing and they’ll be able to see their earnings immediately. Then later we can switch back to weekly payments. Perhaps we’ll switch to a glass jar for a piggy bank so they can watch their earnings add up.

To be continued…
I’ll give you another update next Monday to let you know if this week goes any differently.

clean quote

Chores (or how to use child labor to your advantage)

We have been himming and hawing about giving Crash and Bang an allowance for doing chores. A little incentive to help around the house. Well, I finally created a chore chart. Then it was critiqued by DW and a few changes were made. I based it on a few others I found online. Though the others just didn’t fit what I was looking for. I wanted simple. I wanted it left open for change each day. There chores will change from day to day depending on what needs cleaning and how much time they have.

For example, Crash vacuumed the stairs yesterday. That’s not something that gets done every day. Once a week will suffice around here. Bang put the clean silverware away after the dishwasher was run. That’s something that only needs to be done when the dishwasher is run. In our house that’s about 3 times a week.

I wanted a chart that could be filled in day to day as needed. Most of the charts I found online had the chores filled in already. Or the days of the week weren’t laid out properly. Or it was too colorful and distracting. My chart is perfect. It shows the whole week so we can plan ahead if we want. It’s left open so we can fill in whatever our hearts desire for them to do. It has plenty of space to give them plenty of chores without being too demanding.

It also has a spot for us to deduct earnings from them. BWAHAHAHA! Right now their deductions are only 10 cents. However, there are several ways they can be deducted. Peeing on the toilet seat because they left it down. Leaving a cup or bowl laying around. Not putting their dirty breakfast or supper dishes in the dishwasher. I’m sure more will be created as we climb the learning curve.

They are now four days into doing chores. They are still growling about it. Fingers are crossed that sooner or later (praying for sooner) that it becomes routine. But if I know Crash well enough, he’ll growl about until he moves out. Bang, on the other hand, without his big brother around is eager to help.

Right now they are earning up to $3 a week. One dollar is for them to spend. One dollar is for them to save. One dollar is for them to spend on someone else – birthday, Christmas, etc.. This comes to 75 cents per day for six days. This leaves them with one day without chores. Their first pay day will be this weekend. We’ll see if it motivates them to clean more or not!

chore chart xls

This  Chore Chart is an xls spreadsheet that will open in Excel

This Chore Chart is a PDF that will open in adobe

$$ for Nothing?

We have been toying with the idea of giving the boys an allowance. However, we weren’t just going to give it to them. They would have to earn it. By working. With child labor laws what they are, I can’t send them to work at the local paper mill. So I guess they’ll be responsible for doing stuff around the house. Cleaning, otherwise known as chores.

We have  list of chores they are capable of doing; loading and unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming the stairs, putting toys away, making his bed, cleaning his room, helping with laundry, and a couple others that only arise when needed. We have a set amount we’re willing to give them each week. It will be split into thirds. One third of it will be for them to spend. One third will be for them to save (they can save two thirds if they really want). And one third will be to spend on others (birthdays, donations, and such).

However, I haven’t really hammered down what will happen if the chores aren’t completed. Will they lose a portion of their earnings or the whole week’s earning. How much will they lose if a chore isn’t done? How do I create a schedule or a list to keep track each week of which chores were done and which ones weren’t? How do I stick to it?

Ideally, I would like this helping around the house to become ingrained and automatic, not for the allowance. However, I won’t hold my breath as I’m not really expecting that. That won’t stop me from trying to work toward, though.

Interestingly, an e-mail popped up in my inbox today explaining that an allowance shouldn’t be connected to chores. That chores should be expected and an allowance should be given for going above and beyond what’s expected. Or it should just be given to teach them about money. Huh? Just given to them? Money for nothing? Yeah, I don’t think so. If I have to earn my money by going to work, so do they. I want them to learn that by doing nothing they get nothing.

What’s your take on allowances? Useful or not?