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promises, promises

I've been on a rampage lately. Cracking down on my children for the fact that they don't take care of their things. The things they supposedly love.

I dangle a toy by its ear over the trashcan: "Emma, I found this outside in the rain. It is soaking wet. And dirty. I think I may have even heard it crying last night during the thunderstorm. You must not love this toy because you don't take very good care of it."

She yelps and squeals in terror leaping for the toy and clutching it to her chest, a long-lost prodigal toy returning home.

"Okay. If you really love that toy, show it to me by putting it where it belongs. Put it somewhere safe."

It usually doesn't get this dramatic. And usually my children know that I won't throw away their favorite toy. (I'd at least give it to Goodwill. Kidding. kind of.) But generally it gets my point across, they learn something from it.

And that lasts for five minutes.

So today when I had the sheer pleasure of birthday present shopping for a young cousin, with all three children along for the trip, Emma became extremely attached to one of these mewing, purring, robotic "Fur Real" toys. (yuck.) And when I say attached I mean like she might perish if she has to live without it. I mean tears walking down the aisles of the store with longing looks over her shoulder in the general direction of the "fake pets" aisle.

You'd think the girl could settle for the real stuff. The fact that she has five mewing kittens on her mudroom porch. And four purring ones hanging out in the back yard. But I guess our kittens don't come with purple-flowered carrying cases and pink plastic brushes. (gag.)

promises, promises

So we made a pact. Right there in the store, we shook on it. She dried her eyes, collected herself and made an agreement.

I'm beginning to think I went easy on her. Fourteen days? Maybe I should have made it forty.

promises, promises

But I'll be watching her every move. Tallying up the toys left behind, left out, out of place. She's got to keep up her end of the deal. Fur real this time.

I've been on a rampage lately. Cracking down on my children for the fact that they don't take care of their things. The things they supposedly love.

I dangle a toy by its ear over the trashcan: "Emma, I found this outside in the rain. It is soaking wet. And dirty. I think I may have even heard it crying last night during the thunderstorm. You must not love this toy because you don't take very good care of it."

She yelps and squeals in terror leaping for the toy and clutching it to her chest, a long-lost prodigal toy returning home.

"Okay. If you really love that toy, show it to me by putting it where it belongs. Put it somewhere safe."

It usually doesn't get this dramatic. And usually my children know that I won't throw away their favorite toy. (I'd at least give it to Goodwill. Kidding. kind of.) But generally it gets my point across, they learn something from it.

And that lasts for five minutes.

So today when I had the sheer pleasure of birthday present shopping for a young cousin, with all three children along for the trip, Emma became extremely attached to one of these mewing, purring, robotic "Fur Real" toys. (yuck.) And when I say attached I mean like she might perish if she has to live without it. I mean tears walking down the aisles of the store with longing looks over her shoulder in the general direction of the "fake pets" aisle.

You'd think the girl could settle for the real stuff. The fact that she has five mewing kittens on her mudroom porch. And four purring ones hanging out in the back yard. But I guess our kittens don't come with purple-flowered carrying cases and pink plastic brushes. (gag.)

promises, promises

So we made a pact. Right there in the store, we shook on it. She dried her eyes, collected herself and made an agreement.

I'm beginning to think I went easy on her. Fourteen days? Maybe I should have made it forty.

promises, promises

But I'll be watching her every move. Tallying up the toys left behind, left out, out of place. She's got to keep up her end of the deal. Fur real this time.

31 comments on “promises, promises”

  1. well, you’re nicer than I am, because I’ve just said no to any and all mechanized toys in the house. Period. End of discussion. But boys don’t usually cry and plead. And mine doesn’t go near a toy store. I’m a mean mama. I like it that way!

  2. I know. I think I’m getting weak in my old age, melissa. My kids are wearing me down. 🙂 But I do hold fast to the “no characters” rule. Phew. I’m still strong on some fronts.

  3. I just want to hug you. I do exactly the same thing!! However, you are also nicer than me because a fur real would not come into my house – I just couldn’t take it. I will admire your higher maturity level as a mother, and make sure I don’t take Annika into a store that has those things. I’m having a hard enough time saying no to the “fur real” kittens at the neighbor’s house.

  4. you’ve just got to do what works for you and your little family, sweets! Right now N is playing with a kids’ digital camera my dad and stepmother bought him. He calls it his DS. I’m just going to keep letting him think it’s a DS until he figures out otherwise. Picking battles, you know? But I won’t buy him toys that require batteries. Standing firm on that for as long as I can.I think you’re strong on lots of fronts, to be honest!

  5. I’m embarrassed to admit my Emma already has a “fur real” cat. I let her buy it with some Christmas money and she adores it. Fortunately, Christmas/birthday money only comes twice a year. And yes, every so often our little robotic feline does meow from somewhere in the house and makes me think I might have accidentally trapped the “real real” cat in a closet.

  6. I think it’s the same with my daughter and shoes. She has several pairs of “real shoes” but always wants to buy dress up shoes! And she has beautiful thick brown hair but always wants to buy the fake ponytails you see at the dollar store in colors like orange and green!

  7. my girl is so motivated by charts and lists like this one. in fact, good idea! we need some more ‘motivation’ around this house me thinks as i look at the cascading pile of paper scraps on the family room floor…

  8. My Maddie wants one of those terribly. I always scoot us past the aisle. She just had a birthday and silly me thought buying her 2 real mice for pets was a better option than the FurReal pet….hmmm. I beginning to wonder.

  9. I’ve just had this exact same experience in the middle of toys r us…some how (I’m not sure how) but somehow I managed to convince her that with the same money she could buy several “kittens in my pocket” It worked and I got off easy! I should know better than to take her in there!

  10. Instead of asking for something specific, my kids will actually say, “Can I have a chart?” I think fourteen days is perfect…long enough that she has to work for it, short enough that she won’t lose heart. Even if what’s a prize to her is revolting to you, the value of earning it herself is…um, priceless.

    We are in the transition now of chart vs. chore, as in: we each have chores that are expected of us as members of our family, things we do because they need to be done, not as a means to earning some special whatever. There’s always a new challenge around the corner. I think you’re embracing this one thoughtfully!

  11. Cracking up over here. My mom did this when I was young. Looking back, I appreciate it, because it really made me “think”. How badly did I really want that thing? Was it worth all the work? I would say out of every four or so “deals” we would make, I’d follow through on one or two. I think in the end it creates a good work ethic. My kids aren’t even close to this age yet, but I’ll have to file this away for future reference.

  12. I realize my son is only 2…but when toys are “destroyed” or treated poorly…they simply disappear while he’s sleeping! I’m a mean Mommy! 😉 Really, I just can’t stand broken junk laying around.

  13. I feel your pain – it isn’t just with girls. My son has a rare condition which requires him to have a brand new Hot Wheels car, Transformer, Star Wars figure, etc. about every 3 days, or he will drop dead. Or, at least, that’s how he makes it seem any time we have to go into a store! (Of course, he doesn’t get them, and has some how managed to live…)

  14. I hate those fur real friends! Ug I also hate webkinz, I tell my kids that we don’t do webkinz at our house so they are not allowed to ask for them for gifts 🙂

  15. Katie has two of those fur animals she received as gifts ages ago. I’d be happy to send them 🙂 Seriously though, I thought I was doing well since we were a webkinz free house until her birthday when I think she got 5. So often I feel like I’m swimming against the tide.

  16. Thank you for posting this! I have really been struggling lately with my son’s case of the “gimmes”. He doesn’t watch TV, and I toss catalogs before they even get in the house, but somehow he knows about and NEEDS all these crazy toys that are on the market. When we have to go to a store, he’s started saying to me “first you do your shopping, and then I’ll do my shopping” and I’m like “what do you mean YOUR shopping? Did you bring money?”. We just had Easter, and in his basket he got some really lovely toys, but it always feels like any new toy opens a floodgate of NEEDING MORE!!! I just hate it.

    I know this is mean, but I tell him he has to earn the money for anything plastic or made in China (because unfortunately, that’s all there is in stores like Target). His only source of income right now (he’s just 4) is feeding the cats and he only earns $.10 a day for doing it. At that rate, he forgets about what he wants to buy before he can save enough money for it.

  17. I completely understand. My kids don’t always take care of their stuff the way I did. Of course, I didn’t have as much stuff when I was a kid either. I think your chart is a great way to teach her value and appreciation! We are not very hip on battery operated toys at my house either. I have 4 kids, and the battery expense was blowing the budget! However, we have received a few gifts from family members that required batteries, and one of those was “fur real” pet. It hasn’t been bad at all. We have had her for over a year and never had to change the batteries. I don’t hear much from her unless my daughter accidentally leaves her on, and she makes a sound while I’m cleaning. But more importantly Brigid (6yrs.) has taken very good care of her and since this pet is a toy, can simply turn her off when she is finished playing. Much lower maintenance than my real pets. 🙂

  18. Fourteen days! Breathe easy, she’ll never make it. My boys wouldn’t anyway. I find the threat of ‘room inspection’ where everything on the floor goes in a bin bag for the rubbish men is the only way to get any clearing up done. Mean to the core, that’s me!

  19. I did that about 4 or 5 years ago. I know it was before I had my youngest girl. They had so many plastic little toys, it was crazy. I’ve wised up since then. With about 15 older cousins they got a lot of hand-me-down plastic toys. I first did the “put them in jail” and you can’t play with them until you keep the others picked up. That didn’t work so I did what you did. I did throw some away and when it was all said and done, probably 4 bags at least to the goodwill. I still do that. I will tell them if they don’t want to take care of it, why keep it around and they should give it to someone else. The funny thing is when their rooms start getting messing a lot. I’ll pull out a bag and you’d be amazed of how much they WANT to put in it.I don’t buy toys anymore unless it has some education or useful purpose. When we are at a store and they really want to buy something with their own money, I ask if they really WANT to take care of it or would it just be fun to play with for a couple days. They almost alway end up saying they can think of better things to spend their money on. It took several years to get to that point.

  20. I just wanted you to know that I will make sure my daughter has a *that one day* today. See! Your grandmother is still teaching!

    Thank you for that wonderful post. Holding up you and your family in prayer.

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