About a year ago Kiwi Daughter was throwing a ball inside the living room, my laptop and camera and our engraved wedding wine glasses were on the table. I asked her to stop or things could get broken. Her flippant reply “ but I want to throw the ball, if something breaks then just go buy new ones!”
Needless to say we had a BIG chat about money not being endless, willful waste and about the environmental cost of making the things that we are privileged to own.
Last week, Kiwi Daughter bought her first camera. She’s nine, and it’s been saved from Christmas and Birthday money for two years plus money earned from doing extra chores around the house. She could have actually had it last year, but her general level of laziness back then made it clear that she wasn’t quite ready for the responsibility and I wanted her to expend a decent level of effort to prove to me that she was ready for her first serious purchase.
Walking to the shop, we had a heart to heart chat. I started it like this: If Mama dropped her laptop would it be OK if I took daughters money from her money-box to help fund the replacement? Daughter looked horrified “ noooo, the laptop is yours and you can’t take my money to replace it!”
Ok then, if Little Mr. Broke my laptop could I take your money to replace it? Daughter: “Noooo! if he breaks it then he pays from his money-box!”
Me: What if he doesn’t have the money to cover it? Daughter: “bad luck for you?!”
Ok, If I lend the laptop to Oma (Grandma) and she doesn’t know how to use it or carry it properly and she breaks it, is it ok if I take the money from your money-box to replace it? Daughter replies ” that would be silly, of course not it’s not MY problem who you give your laptop to, if they break it it’s not my fault“.
I carry on, “If we go on a train and I accidentally leave it on the train and no-0ne hands it in”… etc.. Daughter’s answer is of course rather predictable.
Me: So let’s get this straight: If I am not careful, if I let other people use it and they break it, if I leave it behind somewhere then I can’t ask you for your savings money to replace it? I receive an emphatic “No!” for an answer.
Me: “Ok, now the boot is on the other foot… You are getting a new camera, if you loose it, if you give to Little Mr. to use and he accidentally drops it, if you give it to a friend and they break it, if you leave it somewhere where a friend of Little Mr. can get at it etc. Should Mama and Papa then be expected to pay for a new one?”
There’s a stunned silence as the penny drops… she stopped walking, looked me straight in the eye and said “ wow, I better be very careful before I say “yes” to someone else asking to use it shouldn’t I“? Then a big sigh as she thought that through a little more, …” actually that means none of my friends or Little Mr. and I will have to be responsible won’t I?”
Me: ” Yes you will….Are you sure you are ready for this responsibility? We can wait if you want?”
She considers for a moment more: “Nope, I’ll be ok.”
There are a few beautiful moments in your children’s lives where you can visibly see them climbing up another rung of the “growing up” ladder. This was definitely one of these moments.
So we have a new Camera contract, If Daughter breaks her camera, looses it, lends etc etc and it gets lost or broken, then she will have learned a very hard life lesson, and she will have to wait and save and work for a new one herself.
She completely agrees that this is fair and I’m very proud of her.
Of course for circumstances out of her control there is the Insurance, but time will tell how good the lesson in ” being responsible ” has been learned.
It’s a point-and-shoot from the cheaper end of the market, by the time she outgrows it photographically she will be more than ready for the bigger responsibility of an upgrade, …earned herself of course.