parenting advice urgently sought

God, teenagers.

So a Very Strict Rule in our house is “absolutely no way are we ever going to buy a nintendo x-box playstation anything,” for reasons which I documented three years ago in this post.

I will concede that he has mellowed out some, but as he’s calmed down, the Sniglet has picked up the emotional freakery, so there are still very compelling reasons for not allowing such a gadget into the house.

Now, I don’t clean the kids’ rooms for them, but I do occasionally take five minutes to tidy a bit so the job doesn’t seem so overwhelming for them, assess the situation so I can plan our upcoming move, and locate items that were pilfered for some project and never returned (I swear, I could buy a pair of scissors every day, and I still wouldn’t be able to find them when I needed them), etc. For the record, I am not snooping. I have many legitimate reasons to do this. And the other day I found a Playstation in one of Ignatz’s junk drawers.


So, last night after Tae Kwon Do, I asked him where he got it. He managed to save his birthday money, Christmas money, and allowance,* and he bought it last March. (See? If I were snooping, I’d have found it long before this.) I asked him what we should do now, and he said “sell it.” I noted that he did not seem too distressed at the prospect of having his contraband confiscated, and he said well, since I don’t come into his room all that often, he basically had unlimited access to it, and the shine wore off pretty quickly.

*shocker: I have never known him to hold onto money for more than half an hour. I can’t believe he saved up for three months to afford this.

Me: Agh. Ignatz, I can’t believe you did this. You knew it was against the rules, we explained our reasoning again and again…
He: I’m sorry.
Me: Actually, I don’t think you’re really all that sorry.
He: *sigh* You know me too well.

So how do I feel about this? We had despaired of ever teaching him to save money, and here he did it all on his own. But he broke a Very Big Rule. But then he learned that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, a lesson we’ve been trying to teach him for years. But it was a really important and long-standing rule. But he spent his own money, and nobody was actually harmed by his actions. And he did apologize. Plus he made me laugh.

And I have to ask you, O Internets, because the thing (well one of many things) is, when he finds out, DrBob is seriously going to fa-REAK. I don’t know how to tell him. I don’t even know if I should. He has enough stress right now, and frankly, so do I. Dealing with a DrBob-volcano is not high on my to-do list. Plus he’s hardly ever home anymore, do we want to pollute our family weekend with recriminations? Is there a point in punishing Ignatz when he’s already learned the appropriate lesson? But there’s also a principle involved here, and we send the wrong message if we just let it slide.

So I don’t know what to do. Don’t know what to think. Ambivalent is not quite the word I want, since it implies both sides, i.e. two. There are more than two sides here. I’m feeling hexabivalent. Dodecabivalent. Omnibivalent.

Song du jour of the day: Y Tú Qué Has Hecho? by the Buena Vista Social Club


9 responses to “parenting advice urgently sought

  • amy

    I don’t really have any advice. Doesn’t it suck when your kids’ ingenuity (which normally you’d admire) leads to such knots? I am clueless about Playstations. Do they require a TV? ‘Cause maybe I’d decide he didn’t deserve the trust of having a TV in his room and I’d take that away.

    I don’t let my kids watch TV beyond if there’s sports on we big people want to see. Even PBS Kids affects Vaughan like speed. The minute the TV goes off, he’s ten times more hyper than he was before, and I can barely stand the before hyper some days. So I hear you on the Big Rules for Their Own Good thing.

  • red

    sell it. deal with the rest later.

  • leil

    I’m not a parent…but I say sell it, and then have several more talks about it. Maybe tell Dr Bob later. Although–does he read your blog?

  • Elemmaciltur

    I’m not a parent….probably won’t be one for a long time. I’d say, sell it off. Sit Dr. Bob down and talk to him before unleashing him on Ignatz, put all the points on the table and state very clearly that – at least IMHO – Ignatz has actually learnt from this himself with saving up the money and having the shine wearing off the object quickly enough…and especially that he knows he broke the rule.

    Heck…it sounds like what I would do…and probably am still doing. 😉

  • Melanie

    Did any of your parents ever make you write an essay about something you did wrong? I kind of like the idea, but it’s not cool to force a kid to write as punishment (sort of anti-literacy development), but maybe you could have a sitdown with kiddo and scribe for him a What I Learned list. Including the positives, like how to save $$. And I would take that to DrBob and do the pre-talk before he freaks on Ignatz’s head. Or you could fax it to him so he has time to cool off before he comes home for the weekend? Good luck!

  • Melanie

    Oh, and sell it and use the money for something important for the family, something the opposite of an XBox. Family board game?

  • alke

    You don’t have small dilemma’s have you?
    This is so twisted I don’t see an actual way out, but the sound of letting Dad know and cool of before he comes home sounds like a good one..

  • argh. boys. « alala

    […] what happened. I’m still not sure what I think about it all – well, yes, I know how I feel – dodecabivalent. On one hand… but on the other hand… however, don’t forget… yes, but even […]

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