Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thicker Than Water

I told you one of the reasons I hadn't posted in a while. Morning sickness. Well I didn't tell you the other, much more dreaded, reason: "Spring" Break. That's right. I said "Spring". I put those quotation marks there because I meant them. This is NOT Spring. This is a gross, second-verse-same-as-the-first repeat of winter. Only with more days of snow. Like today for example. The thick wet stuff has taken the last shreds of patience not consumed by my children and frozen it. Maybe someone will find it in like 50 billion years.

"Spring" Break was not the much anticipated end to our cabin fever, but 4 and a half days of mother nature mocking my pain. With all six kids. We had wonderful plans. We were going to go up the canyon and have a fire and roast hot dogs for lunch one day. We were going on a picnic to a really cool park another day. We were going to get donuts and go walk around ThatUniversityThatISometimesGoTo another day. It was going to be great. Instead, we stayed home. Inside. And tried to stay warm. How do you stay warm during a snowy spring break, you ask? Watch movies, of course.

We watched a lot of movies. I didn't even hold my kids to the normal rules about television usage. Normally, we have a very efficient system where the kids have to budget their media time. This is how it works: At the beginning of the week, usually during Family Home Evening, we give each of the kids 6 blue tickets with the date written on them. Each of these tickets represents 20 minutes of t.v./wii/computer/internet time. They may use them when their chores and homework are finished and can use them all at once or spread them out over the week. If more than one kid is watching a movie, the one who chooses the movie pays the tickets. At the end of the week the tickets expire. They can't be used the next week. That means if they didn't do their chores/homework, they might not get any t.v. time that week. They also have the opportunity to be awarded white tickets at any time. White tickets are given for any good/kind behavior that Husband or I observe. The kindness has to be done for the sake of being kind, not trying to "earn" a ticket. These tickets never expire. That means they can stockpile them and have a 6 hour wii fest if they want to. The white tickets have the kids names on them and we put all the spent white tickets into a jar. When the jar gets filled up we are going to do something really special as a family (trip, amusement park, etc.) and whichever child has the most tickets in the jar will also receive a treat (dinner and a movie, tea party, horseback riding, etc.) It all sounds very complicated but it's really quite simple. What it boils down to is that my kids don't spend a whole lot of their time on brain-rotting, and occasionally they feel slightly more inclined to do their chores and homework.

This is not our only system. We also have allowances and Saturday Fun. Allowances are simple: they are paid on a daily basis for completing their chores. Each day they get everything done, they get paid. Saturday Fun is an incentive program. Every Saturday, everybody who got all their work/homework done by dinnertime every day of that week gets to go to a super activity: Saturday Fun. This can be anything from a picnic/slumber party in the living room floor to Disney on Ice to Monster Trucks. It sort of depends on the budget. The vague idea behind it is "the family that works together plays together". All the family members who did their part in the overall work get to play. We have had some really good times, especially on those weeks when everybody gets Saturday fun. The thing I like about these two systems is that if you have a day when you don't do what you're supposed to and you have to miss Saturday Fun, you still get paid for all those other days.

So anyway, during "Spring" Break, I didn't require the kids to pay tickets for their t.v. usage.
After their normal after-school chores there was not much else to do for the rest of the day and I was feeling too sick to try to mediate art supplies or cookie ingredients for that many people. We watched A LOT of movies. Over and over. And over. One of the movies we watched several times is Herbie Fully Loaded with Lindsay Lohan. It's about Maggie Peyton, a girl who has just graduated from college and is on the verge of starting a new life outside of the stockcar racing world, much to the happiness of her father. Her family is a racing dynasty and more than anything, Maggie wants to be the next great Peyton. "Racing is in [her] blood." I think watching "Kirby" (as MonsterTruck(2) calls it) sleeping, and riding my kids to get their chores done were the only things I did the entire week. Oh, and a book report for MyOwnPersonalDharma (see my very brief review here).

Well, as it turned out, ThePinkiest(5) did not get her chores done. At all. The entire week. Because she didn't want to. And because kids- like wolves- can smell weakness and know when their mother is not going to fight too hard or too long. (My first trimester is always a disaster.) I'm pretty sure ThePinkiest(5) was sneaking in to watch "Kirby" every single time I dozed off. Well, the kids know exactly what to expect when Saturday rolls around if their chores aren't done and because of this, ThePinkiest(5) knew she had less chance of Saturday Fun that week than we had of a warm, sunny afternoon.

Husband was getting the kids together who were leaving to go have dinner and ice cream sundaes at a restaurant when it started. The drama. Screaming/Whining/Crying/Begging, "Daddy, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaase let me have Saturday Fun! Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaase!!!!!!"

Husband: I'm sorry, but you didn't get your chores done. That was a decision you made. Maybe next time.
ThePinkiest(5): But Daddy!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaase! I NEED Saturday Fun.
Husband: No, sorry. Come on guys, let's get ready to go.
ThePinkiest(5) throwing herself at his feet: Yes I do!!! I NEEEEED IT!
Husband removing his feet from under her: Not this time.
Me: No one NEEEEEDS Saturday Fun.
ThePinkiest(5): I. Need. to have. Saturday. Fun. "It's in my blood."
Me: Is she quoting "Herbie"?
Husband snickers: Yeah.
ThePinkiest(5) as Husband and some kids go out the door: Saturday. Fun. is in. my. blood.!!!


Lindsey said...

Well, at least she is passionate. It sounds like you might have an actor in the fam.

valenzoo said...

love it! you need to post more of your wonderful parenting ideas because I personally am copying them and starting a word document called: "aberjaber's amazing advice for awesome offspring." Ok, so the last word doesn't start with "a," but it still has the ahh sound, does that count?

Tiercy said...

This story is too funny, only because I'm not hte parent having to parent in this moment. I love your system and may have to adopt it over here.

Angela said...

Okay I really like your ticket thing. we had a ticket thing but it was way too much work so it went down the toilet a while ago but your ticket thing seems quite easy to follow. Thanks for the post.

Carly said...

Hey, I found your blog. It's HILARIOUS!! I miss you guys. My girls STILL fight over that disney shirt your sister law gave us cause little mommy wasn't allowed to have it. I don't have your phone #, email or address. Would love to hear from you.

Not quite the Bradys said...

I would love to hear from you too! I don't have a way to get ahold of you either. Leave me a comment with your email address/phone number. I won't publish it and then I can call you. Hope everything is going well!

Love, Aberjaber

Regan said...

Hysterical! My 5 yo is melodramatic at times, too. Of course, it's funnier when it's someone else's child, lol!