October 19, 2012

Pleasant Teenager Moment

We were out shopping and Rob saw a shirt he wanted at Target: it had a picture of a bird wearing a pocket protector and glasses, with "NIRD" under it. He wanted it quite badly, and I liked it too, and I said I'd keep an eye out for it to go on sale as those graphic tees routinely do. He countered by saying he really really really wanted it today, and I countered with huh. He countered with a dismissive remark about the skimpy amount of money saved by a sale, and I countered with the suggestion that when he was handling a household's finances he could decide for himself whether sales were worth it or not. This was fun banter, not tense teenager-wrangling---but he really did want the shirt, and I was losing interest in the conversation and starting to walk out of the department.

As an aside, Rob's clothes now need to be purchased from the men's department. The MEN'S DEPARTMENT. I don't think I'd ever really pictured myself shopping in that department for my children's clothes. I guess I thought the kid sizes went...all the way up? or something? But no. MEN'S DEPARTMENT. (Why doesn't spellchecker like "men's"? Does spellchecker assume I can't possibly be shopping for my child in the men's department and want me to change it to "boys' department"?)

Anyway, Rob then asked what I expected the shirt to go on sale for, and I said probably eight dollars. He asked if we could buy it today if he paid the two dollars that separated the full price from the sale price, and I said yes, and he bounded back to get the shirt and then spiked it happily into the cart. I reiterated that if he would just WAIT he could have it SOON without having to pay ANYthing, and he said cheerfully that he didn't care, it was an awesome shirt and it was worth it to get it today.

It was a very happy transaction, including the part where we got home and he remembered on his own to get the two dollars and give them to me. The whole thing reminded me of the good parts of my own teenagerhood; I remember being pleased with the logic of "I can have the shoes I want if I pay the difference between the ones my parents would have bought and the ones I'd prefer." Some of my friends' parents would have gotten this wrong, saying that the child would have to pay the full price of the preferred shoes, rather than just the difference---which made it even more satisfying to be in a household where it was Right.

25 comments:

Val said...

Ah! That is a nice moment, Swistle. I think one of the joys of keeping a journal or blog that details these kinds of things is being able to relive just this kind moment, one that could seem trivial or easily forgotten otherwise but that really says so much about where you and yours are at the time.

d e v a n said...

That is nice! It's so nice for kids to have some say in things, without having ALL the say of course. Also? That shirt sounds pretty nice and I would have wanted it too.

Carmen said...

Pay the difference! Of course! This is something I will endeavour to remember when my kids are older because yes, that does seem much more fair than making them pay the full price. As usual, you dazzle me with your brilliance.

Swistle said...

Carmen- I have to give the credit to my parents!

MomQueenBee said...

Yay! Yay, yay, yay! That moment when your eyes meet as you swim the moat of the Bad Year makes the other side seem not so far away.

Anonymous said...

OMG! My parents never bought me anything let alone would the ever let me just pay the difference! Wow! What a concept. I have to keep this in mind with I sprout a teenager! Thank you Swistle.

DB

Kati said...

Off-topic (though I'm filing away the "pay the difference" idea to use with my boys) but when I saw said shirt at Target, I had the same reaction as Rob. And I wear it proudly. :)

Suburban Correspondent said...

Count your blessings that you have a teen who can think rationally! And, yes, the "pay the difference" gambit is a very useful one - especially when they are pining for a name-brand something or other that is 15 dollars more than its generic counterpart.

Anonymous said...

Did Blogger eat my comment? :(

the new girl said...

Oh my WORD. I wrote a comment and Blogger ate it and then I asked if Blogger ate it and it posted as Anonymous. THIS IS MY FIRST TIME EVER ON A BLOG OMG!!

Anyway.

My original thought: this post made me think about how burgeoning logic in a teenager is just as exciting as burgeoning awareness in an infant or developing language skills from toddler to preschooler. It's not as obvious, maybe or as anticipated but it must be nevertheless thrilling to see it when it starts to happen.

Whew.

artemisia said...

I just cannot wrap my head around what trip it must be to be a parent. Every stage is new and crazy and it never stops. How?

Give me dogs. They are permanent toddlers. Perhaps not the best stage, but at least its predictable.

Clarabella said...

I love this story.

Nicole said...

What a good boy! But shopping in the men's department - eeeeek! I guess that will be me one day but...really?

Anonymous said...

This is Halyn, can't sign in on work computer.
Does it make a difference to you if the amount of the diffence is larger, and if the item in question is a very poor value at that price? My daughter, age 12 going on 22, wants a hoodie from Hollister that costs 49.99. This hoodie looks exactly liek the one I just bought from Target at a price of seven dollars. It was on sale, yes, but only twelve dollars full price. The expensive hoodie has the brand name across the front. It didn't occur to either of us to have her pay the difference, but I think I would have said no to that, as I said no to her using her own money. My argument being that a hoodie does not have an intrinsic value beyond 12-15 dollars. The Hollister hoodie isn't better made than the Target hoodie. It doesn't look any different, it isn't heavier/warmer, it just has a name brand across the front. Let me also add that this child is not done growing. She may have grown since I started this comment.
So, my question is, do I suck? Am I totally unfair? If we were having a two dollar difference of opinion, I would say, sure, you owe me two bucks. but this is a forty dollar difference. What would Swistle do?

(PS--she certainly didn't learn words like "Hollister" or Aeropostale" from ME. No, no, that she picked up at school.)

Stimey said...

That shirt sounds awesome. Also, I had to buy some sweatshirts for my kids and ended up getting two out of three in the men's department. It freaked me out a little too.

Swistle said...

Halyn- I think it totally depends on how the money/allowance system is set up at your house. At our house, allowance can be used for anything that isn't dangerous or "unreasonable" (I use that as a catch-all for things like a kid wanting to buy a 5-pound bag of sugar, for example). So if one of the kids wanted the Hollister hoodie, he or she could save for it; value is in the eye of the beholder in that case, since it involves non-material elements such as Awesomeness and Peer Approval and so forth. (Kind of how I feel when I spend $45 for a platter in my grandmother's china pattern, when I could have bought an equivalent-quality platter for $7 at Walmart.)

BUT---so far, our kids haven't had access to much money. Like, some of their friends routinely get $20 here or $20 there, so then I'd be proportionately more involved in how they spent it. (I'd put such involvement under the heading of "allowance is a Training Tool, and I am training you.") As it is, it would take them so long to save $50, I'd count on them not wanting it anymore by the time they saved that much.

If she has the money, one thing you could do is build into the allowance system a mandatory waiting period for purchases over a certain amount---say, $15. You could be like, "Yes, you can buy it with your own money. But you need to wait 2 weeks, to see if you still want it. In the meantime, this is a good opportunity to consider what else you could buy with the same amount of money, and see if you really do want the hoodie as much as you want the other things."

If she buys it and she's sorry, it's EXCELLENT training: there is nothing like the sharp pain of regret to make a person consider more carefully in the future.

Gigi said...

I used to do the same thing with my son - asking him to pay the difference. Nine times out of ten, he would decide that he really didn't want the item as much as he thought once he realized he'd have to dip into his own pocket.

Jennie said...

It's so good to hear positive things about parenting teenagers. Because I hear so many not-positive things about parenting teenagers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Swistle, that is very reasonable. Oh, this is Halyn again. :)
I will have to think about this--we don't really have an allowance system set up yet, largely because I can't decide how I feel about it. Her primary job is getting good grades and behaving at school. Her secondary duties are dishes, pet feeding, cleaning her room, and helping me as needed with laundry and cooking. To me, those are all things that have to be done, and have to be done by everyone in the household in order to run smoothly, and no one else in the house gets paid for those things. However, in exchange for doing her job, she very rarely hears the word no for reasonable requests.

Rbelle said...

Halyn, if it helps at all, my family completely separated chores and allowance. We got a monthly allowance to teach us how to manage money and specifically because it kept us from begging for things every time we went to the store. My mom was also very specific about what she spent on birthdays and Christmas, and once we got older, we could request just getting the money, if we wanted. There were "extra" chores we could do to earn money around the house - i.e., usually chores Mom or Dad would otherwise do - but we all also had regular chores and they weren't tied at all to our allowance.

My mom also set aside a separate amount for clothing and once she felt we were old enough (junior high or high school, maybe?), she gave that to us monthly as well. We could save it up if we wanted something brand name, or add it to our regular allowance, but it basically took the "but everybody else is wearing that brand" whining out of the equation. I suspect my Mom waited until she felt we were old enough to NOT blow all our clothing allowance on one pair of jeans, but I think you could do this as early as you like depending on how willing you are to teach that lesson the hard way. And sorry if this is assvice. I know you didn't ask ME, but I've always thought my mom had a really good handle on the allowance thing with us :)

Lippy said...

That makes sense to pay the difference. Seriously, the men's department? That is for actual men who are at least 18. I refuse to believe this will happen to me. la la la laa can't hear you.

Sam said...

I need to read many of these pleasant teenage stories to keep me from eyeballing my littles with dread.

Tweepwife said...

I have teens, 17 and 19, and we do the same - they can pay the difference if they want something more than I am willing to pay. Also, I give them clothing money in the early fall and they now decide what they need and purchase it, with the knowledge that they are not getting more so they have to get all their needs met. And my son shops in the men's department too. It's traumatic - especially the shoes, lol.

CARRIE said...

This is especially nice to read when I've already dealt with nonsense from the highly irrational preschool-age male creatures in my house. Although teens can be irrational, it will be nice to have at least periodic episodes of sensible speak......pay the difference! Brilliant boy!

Stephanie said...

I love this story. Everything about it. :)