7 January 2015, by Violet Lim
Posted a conversation between Cara and I on FB yesterday.
Cara: Mummy, I do not want to go to school.
Me: Ok, you sure? Then I will not pay your school fees for this term and I will save a lot of money.
And, just to be sure, you will not be going to primary school, secondary school, university and you will just stay at home forever ya?
You will not learn new things, make new friends…
Cara: Ok, I will go to school.
Some friends were amused, some friends found it hilarious, and some commented as I have expected… “this would only work on your children, my children would just not care, and would be very happy and jump up for joy!” And some were even funnier, they said that I am blackmailing Cara. 😉
It is definitely very interesting how one post can create so many different reactions. Well, my intentions were of course never to blackmail Cara. Cara is someone who is very headstrong. The more you force her to do something, the more she will fight back. She has her own mind, and she is not someone who is easily swayed.
And of course, this is not the first time we have had this conversation. There have been many different versions of this conversation in the past. There was the time when she would say, “Mummy, I do not want to go to school.” And I would say, “No, you have to go!” and then she will start whining and throwing a tantrum. Or the time when I would say, “But why sweetheart? You know school is very important for you? If you don’t go to school, you will not learn new things, you will not be smart etc.” And she would still say, “I don’t care, I still do not want to go!” And then another ‘struggle’ will ensue.
Why did this particular iteration that I have posted up on FB work? Honestly, I did not really think through it step-by-step before I said what I said. But probably due to my many different experiences with her, subconsciously, I have already understood what would and would not make her tick.
1. Cara is big on making money. I know, she is only 5+. But, she has a strong concept of money, where money comes from, and what money can get. Other than special occasions such as birthday and Christmas, and small trinkets that I get them here and there, I refuse to buy them toys. So in order for them to get toys, they would have to use their own money. And where does her own money comes from? She has to earn it. I would get her to ‘work’ e.g. help me open letters, sort out letters and she would get ‘paid’. And she would save this in her piggy bank. So, she understands the money is not easily earned.
So, when I said, “Then I will not pay your school fees for this term and I will save a lot of money,” she then suddenly understand that mummy actually has to pay a lot of money for her to go to school. If mummy is generally so stingy with her money to buy me a toy, but she is willing to pay a lot of money and send me to school, it must be something good.
She actually asked me, “You mean you will save a lot of money?” I said, “Yes, but I rather not save the money, but spend the money for you to go to school.”
2. I know that when she did not want to go to school, it was a temporary feeling. So, I wanted her to start to think long term. And I wanted her to realise that consequences of her decision, and how that one decision might affect her future.
3. Cara wants to be smart, she likes to learn new things. And in our family, learning and self-development is a big thing. Jamie and I are always reading or going for courses, and we encourage our children to read, watch documentaries and learn. One of the things we do reward them for is learning. Hence, I know when I said that you will not get to learn, it was going to bug her.
4. And of course, like every little boy and girl out there, she loves to play with her friends. 🙂
Hence, the “I do not want to go to school” conversation that could have dragged on for a long time ended in just a few minutes.
Parenting is definitely an art. And I am an eager student. Most of the time, I am learning through trial and error like the above. I also read parenting books to learn best practices. Of course, every kid is different, and what has worked on one, might not work on another. Nevertheless, Corum and Cara have given me so much joy, as much as I am parenting them, they too are teaching me everyday.
Happy Wednesday! 🙂