We all do this – don’t we? “If you eat your greens, you can have a cookie.” “If you do your homework without whining, you can have your iPad back.”
But what about cash bribes?
As a non-parent, it never crossed my mind that a mum might resort to offering an AED 10 kickback for, say, reading a whole chapter of a book. I think I just ignorantly assumed primary school children were motivated by an innate drive to achieve (yes really, bahaha) and a thirst for knowledge. Obviously, I hadn’t thought this through. And have had my eyes opened to the litany of dubious promises that really motivate a child.
Early yesterday morning, I was attempting to drill Son2 on his spelling words. He shook his head, shrugged and rolled his eyes simultaneously.
“C’mon – you need to do better than one out of seven – which is what you got last week, AND the week before,” I said, growing irritated.
He glowered at me. I turned to DH for help, and before we knew it, we’d outlined a sliding scale of enticements.
Son2 is nuts about Halloween. His excitement starts right after his birthday on October 2nd, and he then spends all month talking about Halloween, trying on his costume, and asking us, every morning in the car, “How many more days until Halloween Day?” So the incentive was money for Halloween decorations: AED 100 for ten out of ten spelling words; AED 50 for nine out of 10; and AED 20 for eight out of ten.
I blame the enormous display of spooky merchandise that’s appeared in our community centre – outside the shop as there’s not enough room inside Choitrams itself.
All of a sudden, Son2 was interested. He sat up straighter, practised his words, and I swear I could see AED stretched across the spherical surface of his eyes. (We were very confident we wouldn’t end up shelling out the big bucks.)
On the way home, I asked how he did. He started bouncing in his seat, puffed out his chest a little. He didn’t know his score, but appeared to be mentally spending the money.
In the cool air-conditioning of our house, he ripped open his bag, pulled the spelling book out, and …
Seven out of ten.
Oh the disappointment! To say he broke down is an understatement. He threw himself onto the floor in a heap, and when the sobs came – huge hiccupping sobs with fat tears – he also gulped for air.
I was still standing over a quivering Son2 a few minutes later when DH walked in, adjudicated the situation, and came to the joint decision that there was a small plastic prize for seven out of ten.
“We shouldn’t have done that,” DH said to me later. “It’s a life lesson – you fail at something and learn from it.”
“I know, I know,” I said, thinking, today at the tender age of just turned seven he wants dirhams for decorations, but he could grow to want a Lexus. I sighed. “At least he tried – even if it was for all the wrong reasons, and he did do so much better than the last few weeks.”
Parenting, eh – who knew raising kids was so hard on your wallet and your heart.
Now how much did I owe Raptor for reading?