I just got a phone call that has me confused. I'm not exactly sure what to think of it. Walter's friend's mom called me. She wants the boys- my boy, her boy, and a few of her boy's friends- to help set up their pool. Which is cool, you know, Little Red Hen. In return, she wants to take them to an amusement park for the day... as payment for helping. and she wants to know if I am ok with that. and this is where I am confused because I don't know.
Am I ok with him helping set up the pool? Of course.
Am I ok with him going to an amusement park with them? Absolutely.
Am I ok with the amusement park being a reward for helping set up a pool that he will spend time in this summer anyway? ...I'm not so sure.
It makes me uncomfortable because I want my boys to learn the value in helping just because someone asked. I want them to know that you do something for someone else because you can, because they asked, NOT because you will get something out of it. I want them to know that you don't always get a reward for doing the right thing, the reward is in the doing.
The friend's mom's goal lesson is just as important- working for what you get. Earning something they want.
The first woman we lived next to here taught me that I can't deny them a reward for helping. It didn't matter how small the job, she found a way to reward them even though I strictly forbade monetary rewards. She would give them candy, cookies, soda... the older ones, she'd slip them $10 and tell them not to tell their mom.
With the older ones, it took a while but we finally got to the point that when I said, "hey, this person needs..." the first question was not, "what am I going to get for it?" It got to the point to that when the tornado hit Oklahoma, Thing1's first thoughts were not for himself, even if his job had not required him to, he would have been one of the first people asking what he could do. Last week, the neighbor dad needed help with his pool, all he said was, "I need help with..." and both Thing2 and Walter jumped up with no questions.
The purpose in the lesson in helping because you can is not to punish them by denying something given back in appreciation. I guess the trick is teaching the balance between selfish and selfless. I guess allowing them to take a reward is just as important as teaching them not to expect it. So, yeah. I guess I'm ok with it.