Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Better Bargain

The girls have been collecting points this summer. They used their points to buy things at the summer children's store. I set up the childrens store at our house and then Mr Mousache runs it for me. He is a guy in a silky open necked shirt, a green mustache with a purple hat and shades. Its weird because Mr Mustache looks and sounds a lot like mom but he has a deeper voice and a phony brooklyn accent.

Things to buy: A potato that you keep under your pillow for 3 days and it turns into a chocolate bar, some curious george figurines, coloring books, a lava lamp, (things I picked up from garage sales), a horse stable, bulk candy from Winco in little bags, oddities like straws that turn milk into chocolate milk or a popcorn seed that grows into a candybar if you plant it in the back yard. 

Horse and stable earned with points from the children's store. Thanks Mary Kate!
You can also buy an experience: Horseback riding with mom, a date with mom and dad (includes dinner, an activity like playing soccer and a dessert) Go on a walk with mom, make your favorite treat with mom and spend time reading with dad are examples.

How you earn your points: Lets say you are 4 years old and a total go getter, you would earn points for speaking kindly, doing unexpected thoughtful acts, apologizing freely, staying calm and making good food choices. 
Or lets say you are 4 years old and a tad on the reserved side. You could earn points for speaking up, doing unexpectedly kind deeds, not whining, being brave when you want to crumble, standing up for yourself and being actively helpful.

I don't remind the girls about the points, I don't draw it out or try to entice them to do things for me by the offer of points. I just tally at the end of day. I tell them when they have done something unexpected, thank you, I would like to give you a point for being so thoughtful. They look forward to the children's store with such anticipation  that I get a thrill being part of it!

At the children's store, Mr Mustache enjoys putting the girls in a bind to see if they can figure out their problems. When they figured out they needed to combine their points to have enough to buy the stable and horses, I felt a lift of triumph. Mr M. also tries to lure them into buying all candy instead of more memorable choices (Hazel bought the lava lamp, yah!) but they don't fall for it... most of the time. Through this experience, I wanted them to learn to be willing to wait for better, ask for what they want, count and pay for items and make decisions while Mr Mustache teases and terrifies them (only a little bit).

I have heard of various examples of this summer store enacted by other mothers, this is the version I cooked up. I liked the results. I felt like the girls were innocent and uncalculating about earning points but I did see an uptick in kindness and temperament. Hazel made my bed all by herself as a surprise and CC has made her bed 11 days in a row (and counting) without being reminded, she also gets dressed on her own without being asked as soon as she gets up.

Hazel and CC both chose the date with mom and dad last month. It was quite an expensive week as we went to dinner twice and needed babysitters twice but we loved it! Being with one little girl- no competition from siblings was bliss for all of us. I felt like I could really focus on her development and getting to know her better, I wish we could do it more often. Mostly, they are just sweet little girls with heads full of fluff, but we chuckled as I am sure my parents laughed at my pee-brain as a child, when all I could talk about was froo-froo nonsense.

One of my favorite quotes came from CC while we were on our date. She turned to me smiling, holding out her hand and said, "A date with CC means we hold hands!" We held hands the rest of the night.