Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Child Labor

Since it's December, and I forget what it's like to make hundreds of cookies every Christmas, I sat myself down and wrote down a list of treats I wanted to give as gifts this year. I think I wrote down five or six and decided that wasn't nearly enough.

So I scoured my Pinterest cookie and treat boards for things I had pinned to try out on people later, and filled out my treat list to a nice even eleven. 

Eleven types of treats....that's not so bad, right?

My pregnant brain thought it was a fantastic idea, and I set to making my dough, etc., for all the magical Christmas treats. 

I'll spare you the nightmare joyfulness that was creating all these treats, except for one. 

My friend, Tiffany, gave me the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies a few years ago, and it's the one I always jump on if I want to amaze people with my cookie making skills (never mind that I over-cooked all but six of the batch I made for Christmas...I was tired, okay?? Stupid seven hours cooking treats...grumble grumble...I'd like to see all your cookies turn out after you've been standing in the kitchen that long...just sayin'........).

So, in anticipation of making said Fantastic Tiffany cookies, I went to the store and bought the biggest bag of milk chocolate chips I could find (about 2 lbs.). I usually don't buy them, because I don't like them in cookies, and since I don't like them in cookies, I usually end up just hand-over-fist-ing them in an indelicate manner. But, since the recipe called for them, and I wasn't the only one who would be eating the cookies, I decided to buy the milk chocolate ones for the benefit of the cookie recipients. 

The bag lay quietly in my pantry for about a week before I was ready to make the cookies. I mixed all the ingredients in a bowl (it's easier than doing it on the counter, especially with the eggs), and went digging through the pantry (since I have a habit of just throwing things in helter skelter on the baking shelf) for the chocolate chips.

What I pulled out was a considerably lighter bag than the one I bought. About two-thirds of the bag was empty. At the top of the bag, a very neatly cut rectangle was cut out of one corner, big enough to pour out the chocolate chips into an eagerly waiting hand. A small-ish hand...a hand belonging to my eldest child who was about to meet an abrupt end. 

Now, I'm new to this whole parenting an 8-year-old thing. Eva, Lily, and Eden I've got all figured out, since I was able to practice extensively on Josh. So I was completely befuddled as what to do with my chocolate-pilfering son. 

So, I did what anybody would do when they find out that their child has eaten over a pound of chocolate.

I got really mad. 

I suppose I should have some compassion on my boy. I mean, Emily and I used to sneak into the pantry and slink off with baggies full of cheerios and chocolate chips, and never mind all the times I would quietly open the freezer door as a little person and dig out chunks of Cool Whip and homemade ice cream with my fingers...I think Mom was just happy we were being quiet, and the food was just acceptable loss.

Anyway, after confronting Josh about it (in a very strained and elevated tone of voice), and his subsequent denials (which was absolutely ridiculous, since it was obviously him), we finally came to an agreement that he had done it ("But it was a long time ago" he insisted. "NO, it WASN'T!" I countered, and then he finally conceded that it had only been three days, which made me think of the walk we had gone on three day before and how Joshua kept complaining about having a tummy ache and had to stop every few feet to crouch down and hold his stomach, of which I thought nothing at all, other than him being a silly boy and perhaps he had had too much spinach in his smoothie. Seriously...it's a wonder that he didn't go into a diabetic coma after eating an entire pound of chocolate.). 

Now, Jeremy and I being new to this whole thing, decided that we needed to make an impression on the fruit of our loins, and took away Josh's Cub Scout rights.

"NO CUB SCOUTS!" we declared, and Joshua melted into a puddle of devastated little boy that faintly reeked of chocolate. 

After thinking about it for some time, I concluded this was a bad idea. There had to be a consequence equal to the action. Had To Be. But what?

Cue President Spencer W. Kimbal.

I don't know if I had read it and recalled it, or read it after the chocolate theft, but what he said was that when something is stolen, it should be repaid. 

Makes perfect sense!

Why didn't I think of that??

Oh, well, probably because I don't know what I am doing. 

Anyway, Jeremy and I sat Josh down and explained to him that since he had essentially stolen an entire bag of chocolate chips from me, he would have to pay me back with chores. 

He seemed okay with the idea, and kept asking about what chores he could do, and if there was a list, and how much he would get. I quickly deciphered that he thought that I would be giving him cash for each job he did. When he realized that the money he would be earning was just in theory, he wasn't quite as gleeful about it. 

Yesterday was day one of earning back the $5 he owed me. I showed him how to vacuum, and he put away laundry, earning himself seventy-five cents.

After giving him those chores, I didn't know what else he could do the next day. Luckily, Eden solved that problem by making a giant, crumby mess with her cheerios yesterday afternoon, and Joshua had to vacuum again. And also lucky for me, Joshua has the OCD frame of mind, and was very thorough with his vacuuming. He then wiped down the kitchen table and put away more laundry. 

It was magically fantastic. 

It was like...like...I wasn't doing everything by myself. It was like having actual help during the day.

I think I'm going to have to continue this after Josh is done paying me. It can be considered part of his educations. Home Ec, or something. Yes...I like this plan....


Jennifer said...

Great story!! (Still laughing out loud). Slave labor is part of the reason people have kids....right?

Trillium said...

You need to make him a chart that shows how much he has earned so far and how much farther he has to go to pay the debt. Beware: If you tire of this learning experience before he has paid the entire price, he will have learned that he doesn't have to pay back.

Anonymous said...

I have the current tally on the fridge of what he has earned! I know I have to do this otherwise it would have been a total waste of time...although, it has been worth all the chores I haven't had to do. Ha ha ha!

Sarah Stufflebeam said...

He, he, he. I read this right after eating about 1/4 of a bag of Chocolate chips, leftover from baking cookies the other night. I really want that recipe! All of my chocolate chip cookies seem to fall flat. * cue smiley face * :0)

FINDING PEACE IN 2012 said...

Child labor is the best! My dad used to joke that the only reason they had kids was so they didn't have to do all the work. I remember thinking that it felt that way... Me doing all the work! Now as a mom, I know just how wrong I was! So much work being a parent and our kids only see a fraction of it!

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