Kids are born perfect...

Posted April 30th, 2007 by Penny Wise

It's been a bit of a quiet week for a change! Not quiet as in nothing to do (chance would be a fine thing!) but quiet on the savings front. Although, I suppose if you consider I haven't been anywhere to spend any money, that can only be a good thing! Actually, I tell I lie, I did manage to save hundreds of dollars on my vet bill. On the day poor old Dudley was put to sleep, I called into the vet later on and paid for it then and there, as I didn't want to receive an invoice a few weeks later and remind me of the sad occasion all over again. Unfortunately the vet's computer system was nowhere near as sensitive and I was appalled to receive a bill for $642. According to them, I had waved Dudley off to doggy heaven on February 2nd, March 5th AND March 12th! Jings, as if once hadn't been enough! So I went into the vet, who luckily remembered me paying her in full on the day. The problem was, she then tried to convince me that if the other three dates had been entered into the system, well they must have been for something else and I still owed them. For almost half an hour we went round and round in circles and I could feel myself becoming more and more angry as she attempted to brainwash me with events and procedures which had never existed. Once upon a time I probably would have given up and forked out the money but not this time, no way! Being a Simple Savings member has given me the confidence to stand my ground and not pay a cent more than necessary. If other people have the guts to do it, then so do I. I was quite prepared to take it further and go to the head honcho if necessary but mercifully something finally clicked on the other side of the counter and frugality won out. I left the vet with nothing more on the account but a bottle of Frontline spray, some dog biscuits and a self-satisfied smile.

My lovely hubby treated me to a copy of Sophie Gray's new book, 'Enjoy' earlier this week. Even Liam said that it would be OK for us to buy it 'because Sophie's cookbooks help us save lots more money'. How right he is! Once again Sophie has brought out a fantastic range of mouthwatering recipes for the budget-conscious and I love the sound of them all but best of all I like the fact that there are twice as many recipes in this book compared to her previous ones, hooray! I served up her Cowboy Casserole for dinner last night (super quick and easy) and the kids went off with freshly made Flapjacks in their lunchboxes this morning, which took me all of five minutes to throw together. My kind of cooking! On the whole though, this week has been fairly uneventful. We're still trucking off to the doctor every two days to change Ali's burn dressing but luckily all treatment is being covered by ACC (Accident Compensation er... something or other) - anyway, it's free so that makes a nice change. We have spent a busy couple of afternoons chopping and stacking firewood and have finally finished getting it all in the shed - there is a HEAP of it after we cut down all those trees before Christmas. I don't think we have ever been so well stocked so hopefully there is no chance of us running out during the winter - *touch wood*, pardon the pun!

Now - I apologise for today's blurb going a bit off-topic but I have a couple of things which are really preying on my mind at the moment and I would hate to plaster even more of my ramblings on the Forum so I'm going to post them here. At first glance I thought they would all come under 'Non-Savings Chat' but once I thought about it, that's not really the case in a roundabout way. I know that Simple Savings members have sooo much wisdom and experience to offer, so if anyone has any suggestions on how to help with the following of Penny's Puzzles, please email me!

Puzzle #1 - Homework woes. Behold a tale of two boys, called Liam and Ali. Both of them get homework every Monday and it has to be completed and handed in every Friday. Ali, the youngest, sits down quietly every day and does a little of his homework at a time without ever even being asked to. He rarely asks for help and more often than not hands his homework in well before Friday's deadline. Liam on the other hand feels that homework is the bane of his life. Trying to get him to even make a start is a mission - even though he actually gets less homework than his little brother. If we're lucky, we can nag him to get round to it by Thursday night but every moment is as painful as pulling teeth. More often than not, some of it invariably gets left until Friday morning before school - or as in the case of last week, the whole lot had to be done, resulting in everyone becoming stressed and grumpy and ending up 15 minutes late for school. Not the best way to start the day but I was determined for him to complete his homework, especially seeing as he hadn't managed to finish it for four whole weeks leading up to the holidays. The whole time, someone has to sit over him, cajoling him and encouraging him to think for himself and of course what usually ends up happening is that I just tell him the answers out of sheer frustration while he makes excuses about being tired, unwell, hungry or just not able to concentrate. But getting the homework done this way is of no help to Liam - if I'm telling him all the answers without him having to even think about it, he's not learning! He's not a naughty kid by any stretch of the imagination; he just hates homework. Next year he will be going to high school and getting four times as much homework so I really want to encourage him without nagging and instil the same kind of work ethic his brother has. I don't want homework to be a chore everyone dreads! Not only that but the last minute rush to do homework actually costs us money because if I am coaxing him along on a Thursday night, the whole family usually ends up having a rubbish dinner, using whatever emergency quick food I can lay hands on, the washing doesn't get taken off the line and at worst I have to ring Noel to pick me up a bottle of wine on his way home to calm my frazzled nerves! I would love to know if any other SS members have this problem and what they do in order to get homework done painlessly. If you have any suggestions, please email me!

Puzzle #2 - Teaching responsibility. This puzzle continues in much the same vein. I am ashamed to admit it but I am one of those mothers who does pretty much everything for their children. You know, one of those martyr types who thinks 'sigh - if you want something done, do it yourself', or worse - you go and do it AGAIN after someone else has already done it because it's not good enough. With me, it's things like making beds. My kids actually make their own beds, but I still go around after them and neaten them up when they're not looking. That's just one example and not an overly important one but they seem totally incapable of finding drink bottles, socks and shoes in the mornings and suchlike - not to mention things like cleaning teeth or brushing hair without being reminded at least seventy times. Noel says it's my fault because I've always done everything for them. They actually have a list in their room now which we call the Morning Drill, which lists things like 'Pull curtains, make beds, turn lights off, get dressed, brush teeth' etc etc and they are not allowed to play with anything before school until all those things are done - but without that list, they simply wouldn't remember to do any of it. I lost count of the times I would go upstairs in the middle of the afternoon and discover their bedrooms lights had been left on all day. It probably sounds like I'm being a real nitpicker but I guess all these little things add up to the bigger picture, not just at home. Along with all the little the things I do for them at home are also all the things I don't let them do in the outside world. I guess today's society has made me somewhat paranoid about keeping my children safe. When I think of all the things I did when I was my kids' age - there's no way I would let them do most of it While other kids their age wander the streets by themselves, mine are never out of my sight. I know I'm not the only overprotective parent in the world but what do I do about it? I want to give them more responsibility but I'm almost afraid to. I know that doing everything for them and sheltering them from so much is not good for them, so what I want to know is, how do other parents teach responsibility and independence to their kids? What little things do you encourage them to do to help them stand on their own two feet? I was struggling to find the savings point in this topic but I guess it's actually similar to the one above. The more time I spend fluffing around after the kids and doing everything for them, the more it costs us in other ways. Who knows, maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist but I know there are a lot of parents out there with bucketloads of commonsense and well adjusted kids so if you are one of those, please let me know the secret to achieving the right balance!

There's an old saying which goes something like 'Kids are born perfect - then their parents go and ruin them'. I came across the perfect example of this yesterday at what was supposed to be a fun day out. The Barbarians rugby club organised a fantastic mini-tournament for 32 kids teams around the country and our boys took part. Everything was free - food, drinks and heaps of great freebies such as caps, frisbees and rugby balls. Noel's team won their first game and were naturally excited - until they saw the team they were to play next. Considering there was a weight restriction in force, these players were almost twice the size of our boys and the referee warned Noel in advance that they were prone to deliberate head-high tackles. Nice. However, we encouraged our boys on regardless and the game began. Even with such an unfair weight and size advantage our kids held their own and time and again headed for the try-line. They would have scored time and time again, had the parents of the opposing team not been standing directly on our try-line - close together like a row of matchsticks, so that none of our kids could get through to touch the ball down. That was frustrating enough for the poor kids but not only that, these parents were also shouting abuse at our players every time they approached with the ball. Fortunately, even with their attempts to sabotage our efforts, we still won 2-0 but as the final whistle blew, the parents of the other team decided it was not over and demanded the referee play on for another five minutes. With two more teams waiting in line to start the next game, this was not possible and even if it had been, it was not necessary, the game had finished. So our boys stood there patiently, waiting for instruction from the referee but the opposition didn't like that. They decided they had waited long enough and headed straight for our team, shoving, hitting and intimidating them - with their parents egging them on. To their credit, our team did not fight back, they just stood their ground. The referee's decision was final, the game was over and the two teams lined up to shake hands - well, our team did but the other team refused and just swore at them all as they marched past. Perhaps if they had realised who was watching them from the sidelines, they may not have been so intent on putting on such a disgusting display of behaviour. However, in contrast our kids walked off the field to be greeted by none other than All Black coach, Graeme Henry, who congratulated them for their deserved win and posed for a photo with the team. That cheered them up no end! After the last experience, they were more than a little nervous about taking on the next team but they couldn't have been more different. Whenever one of their players tackled one of ours hard, they apologised for any hurt caused! So in the end, the day finished on a positive note but all the boys agreed that it was no surprise that the previous team behaved so horribly, given the rotten example set by their parents. I think I'd rather be overprotective than overaggressive!

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