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How Daddy Got Played: Chores, Part 1

2011 May 2
by Pamela

Up until recently, Mary Claire didn’t do chores around the house.  That’s not to say she’s been lounging around eating bon bons.  To have her tell it, all she does is slave away while I sit and watch Oprah.  But basically we’ve been teaching her to pick up after herself.  You know, pick up the slew of toys, books, and clothing she leaves everywhere like a snail leaves its slime. 

I went from occasionally thinking about giving her some formal chores to thinking about it 16 hours a day. 

And it’s all Bob’s fault:  he got suckered.

Mary Claire has been OBSESSED with getting an American Girl doll.  I’ve been putting her off for over a year now, buying her copy cats from Meijer.  But she’s been asking with increasing frequency since the ONE TIME I asked her to go to the mailbox, there was an American Girl catalog waiting inside (and that folks, is the definition of “irony”).  There is no gift-giving holiday in sight, so I told her no.  No, I’m not buying you a $100 doll that doesn’t even come dressed.

Of course she has common sense, so she did the right thing:  went and asked  Daddy.

Poor Bob.  He walked right into a finely- laid web.  I watched the whole thing unfold, but couldn’t save him because I was too busy taking notes.  My skills of cunning and charm are getting rusty. 

But Mary Claire’s are not.  After she sat on his lap, showered him with butterfly kisses and told him he was the bestest Daddy in the whole world, she asked him to buy her an American Girl doll.  And Bob, not knowing that it was even possible for a doll to cost that much, said “Sure honey, let’s go buy one next week”. 

Later I informed him just how much this doll would cost and how we would have to buy her at least one $25 outfit.   Plus I’m always thinking precedent and fairness, so I multiplied three dolls by 1,500 outfits and could see that Mama wasn’t getting her push present anytime soon.  Or ever.

As I’ve written before, Bob is quite responsible with money and saw this as an awesome opportunity for Mary Claire to learn the value of it as well.  They had at-length discussions (and I mean at-length) to hammer out details, then literally shook hands on a deal:

If she worked every week to do chores between April 1- August 30, Bob would pay her $6.60 a week.  She was to give 10% to our church, have 10% to spend, and then had to save the rest in a bank account.  If she did all of her chores faithfully and without complaint, in September he would take her to the American Girl store in Chicago.  She could use her money to buy a doll and he would pay for transportation, hotel, and eating out for a weekend.

It really is genius on his part.  Can you imagine the great life lesson here?  You work super hard for something you really want and then you get to go all the way to Chicago for a fun little vacation?  It’s a memory I’m sure she’ll have forever (that’s what I keep telling myself anyway). 

But here’s the problem.  Someone had to make sure she did the working “super hard” part.  And someone had to decide what her five-year-old self could do effectively around the house.  Then the chores had to be organized and posted in some fashion so they would be understandable to her. 

Which, of course, if where I came in.   On the next installment of “How Daddy Got Played” I’ll share how we got some of the above figured out.

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    May 2, 2011

    That is great! Can’t wait to see how it all works out :) We did the Chicago/American Girl store trip and Mara had an excellent time (So did I! I can’t wait to go back, unfortunately I will either have to wait til my niece is old enough or until I have a granddaughter. ).

    • Pamela permalink*
      May 20, 2011

      Or you could take Mary Claire. :) I think it will be a great trip.

  2. May 2, 2011

    Brilliant! Lauren and Shelby both had to save up for the dolls and accessories they wanted over the years. The nice thing is, that they hold their value pretty well. Lauren sold all of hers on ebay and was able to pay for books for at least 2 semesters in college!

    • Pamela permalink*
      May 20, 2011

      oh my gosh, that’s great news. I can’t believe she made that much. Books aren’t cheap!

  3. jenny baugh permalink
    May 2, 2011

    Love it!

  4. jennifer permalink
    May 2, 2011

    Good news Pam, they do come with clothes. We just went to chicago and american girl shop, so i have some tips for you.

  5. Ellen permalink
    May 2, 2011

    When Mary Claire told me about her allowance for doing her chores, she told me it was the generous amount of $100. a week. After I gasped, Bob corrected things and then I learned of the quest for the Holy Grail of the American Girl Doll! It’s not a bad thing, this deal. She’ll learn a lot – and so will you!!!!!! And you know, we all like a reward for our efforts!!!

    • Pamela permalink*
      May 20, 2011

      well said. Mama’s going to get rewarded for keeping up on these chores with a trip to Chicago.

  6. Tammie permalink
    May 3, 2011

    Totally got PLAYED. In the end, at 5 there are only so many chores she can really do. She still makes out ahead with Daddy footing the bill for the weekend.
    I can see it is time to reinstitute the butterfly kisses!! I’ve had my eye on a puppy for some time now……….

    • Pamela permalink*
      May 20, 2011

      work it girl! MC is offering lessons – for pay, of course.

  7. Kelly permalink
    May 15, 2011

    Hey Pam we (Eric and I) were just in Chi town with no kids in tow. First time in the city just adults who a whole new city. Anyways we got great deals on travelocity.com top secet hotels. It’s where you pick your location and price and they tell you what hotel after. We paid $200. for 2 nights and 1 night at regular cost for the room we were in at the Pamer Hilton was $295 if we were to just get it without the site. Great money saver. Great story she will have so much fun. Our kids have been there a few times (not the American Doll store hehe) but we do the museums and the shopping with Navy pier and they love it. You guys will have a blast!

    • Pamela permalink*
      May 20, 2011

      Well if you want the American Girl store experience, feel free to pick up MC anytime. Thanks for the info., I will definitely try out those sites when we get closer.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Chores, Part 2 | Under the Juniper Tree
  2. Chores, Part 3 | Under the Juniper Tree

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