Saturday, June 26, 2010

Working for the Prize

Awhile back we were doing something special for some reason, and decided to rent the Super Mario Brothers game for the Wii. It was a really big deal, and we all had fun with it...but Conner really and truly fell in love. He's talked about that game non-stop for months now, long after we had to return it to Blockbuster.

Then he told me that he wanted to rent it again for the first week of summer. We had a talk about how much it cost to rent the game for a week ($9), and about how for the price of renting it five times we could pretty much buy the game and keep it forever. Maybe we should come up with a plan for saving up our money to buy it instead of just renting it over and over again.

After a little more talking and a research trip to Best Buy to find out the cost of the game ($49.99) with his Daddy, the plan was born. Conner was going to work, earn the money, and save up for it. Genius, huh? :) Coming up with 50 bucks for a video game was going to be a challenge for me too. We worked hard to find a balance between giving me the time to actually come up with the money, yet short enough that his six-year-old-little-boy-distractable-self wouldn't lose interest or give up.

It was decided that we would pay Conner 50 cents for opening the gate for us in the mornings (a job that he had just recently mastered), and for each bag of trash (we average about one a day) that he took out for me. Then I would come up with a bigger job 2 or 3 dollar job each week, like cleaning out the van. If he kept up, he could earn about $10 a week (and that's where I was capping him off). And hopefully, knowing grandparents and aunts/uncles would probably get involved, enough other random little things would come up that he would actually end up earning the money in about four weeks instead of the full five.

We made a bar graph to keep up with his progress, and at the end of each day he was responsible for adding the money he had earned to his running total, and then adjusting his graph accordingly. It was great - not only did we learn about bar graphs, we learned about regrouping and lining up decimals in the process!

Of course, it didn't work out perfectly; we had to readjust our plan a few times. For the last couple of weeks Bret had to leave pretty early in the morning to head to Dallas for his class at SMU, and had to open the gate before Conner even woke up. So, since we've been swimming everyday, he took up folding the beach towels for me instead. The van didn't need to be cleaned out each week as badly as I had expected, so during swim lessons I told him that if he'd take a nap every day, I'd consider that a "big job" and pay him $3. And last week he ended up going to Yogi and BooBoo's for basketball camp, and they were sweet enough to play along with us. There he had jobs like picking strawberries, taking out the trash, shelling peas, and as a big $3 job he helped Yogi dissect a chicken so that we could have it for dinner he got home!

While he was there, Yogi made the joking comment that he should get a 10% share of all that money Conner was making, since he was the one that had planted the stawberries and peas. Conner asked how much that was and (yet another math lesson for his project!) Yogi explained. So without even blinking an eye, without any anger or tears (he was already in the $40's and almost there!), Conner immediately figured out how much he owed Yogi and how much more he would need to earn. And sweet Yogi, instead of refusing because he had only been joking, and in the name of learning about paying business partners for their share, allowed Conner to pay him. He then of course quickly found another reason to pay that money back to him! :)

And this story simply wouldn't be complete if I didn't include Micah. Being the good little brother that he is, since Conner was suddenly interested in things like taking out the trash and cleaning out the van, he of course was too. And when he earned money for his piggy bank, never once did he actually put his money in his own stash. He always gave it to Conner, "cause he really wants that game."

So after beginning this project on 5/29, a lot of hard work, a lot of quarters, and several great lessons in math and life, Conner ended up with his $50 on (I think it was) 5/24. Not bad for making the timing work, huh?!

Conner got back from Yogi and BooBoo's yesterday, and we went to Blockbuster last night to get his game.
And for their own contributions to the project, Micah and Joey (he's actually pretty good at folding up towels!) had each gotten $7 from Yogi and BooBoo. So they decided to combine their earnings to get a new Backyardigans movie.
I am so proud of you for working so hard, sticking to the plan, and earning that new Super Mario Brothers game, ConnerBug!! You've learned some very important lessons toward becoming a good man. And Micah, your sweet, helpful heart makes my own heart nearly bust with love and pride for you. Joey, I'm proud of you too kiddo - thanks for not getting into all of Conner's quarters, tearing up his graph, or already scratching up his new game. That took some hard work and amazing restraint on your part! Yogi and BooBoo, thanks for all the time and work you put into the project, too. And to Gammie and Poppy - a very special thanks for helping me come up with a "plan" to find the money to pay that hard-working kid! :) This was quite the family project!
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Bret Wells said...

Rach, I truly admire you. You do such a great job of taking ordinary stuff and capitalizing on teaching moments. Our boys are going to be better men...better people because of you.

And Wellsbrothers - you guys rock.

Lee and Michelle said...

Yep - exactly what Bret said! Awsome!

Gammie said...

Oh Conner-bug we are so proud of you! Great Job! Micah-you have got to be the sweetest younger brother in the world! Great Job!
Josiah-wow, we are proud of you too! Great Job!
and Rach-Great Job! We know it was a lot of work on your part for Conner to achieve his goal.