Friday, June 18, 2010

Hello, Summer!

This morning, I got a text from my 16-year-old daughter: "I just took my last final! You own me a mani and a pedi!" Today is the last day of school for both my daughters.

The temptation to "check out" of school earlier, however, happened about two weeks ago. To keep their momentum going of staying focused on school, I did what any smart, hands-on parent would do: I bribed them. And it worked, because my teenager aced her finals. I'll be dialing up the nail salon right after I post this e-mail.

A few months ago, we weren't sure where to go for our summer vacation. Unlike vacations in the past, this year is an important one, as it will most likely be the last summer trip that we take together as the Three Muskateers. Next summer, my oldest daughter will be graduating from high school (I tear up just thinking about it!) and running off to Greece with her best friend. Her life with mom and baby sister will be history.

Yep, this year is an important vacation for us. We were booked on the European Disney Cruise for a year and a half, but pulled out at the last minute because I realized that once on board, I really wouldn't be spending much time with my daughters since they usually make fast friends and I never see them, except at dinner and when we turn in for the night. That's no way to spend our last vacation together.

Mexico would have been fun . . . a few years ago. Now with all the kidnappings going on, there is no way in HELL I would ever travel there. Not even to Tijuana! I don't care how many free trips are waved under my nose. Being grabbed by the drug lords and held for ransom is not my idea of a good time. And it would probably be a very extended vacation, as I'm not sure anyone would pay for my release.

So we're going to New York City and Boston. It's a smart decision, really. Not many kidnappings happening over there. My teenager is considering Boston University as a college choice, and she wants to check out the campus, so I thought it would be brilliant and very economical if we combined our summer vacation with a college tour. Of course we'll be catching a Broadyway show, too, in New York. "The Addams Family." It will be nice to be entertained by another dysfunctional family for a change.

Planes, trains, subways, ferries and lots of walking. That's how the three of us plan to spend our last summer vacation together.


Jouda Mann said...

Bribing teenagers, you say? For shame, You should burn in...
Oh hell, I do it too.
In fact, I got sneaky.
First, I do not agree with some parents (I know you're not one of these, Lynn) who bribe their children with small things - movie tickets for good citizenship or what have you. My children have never heard me say "if you behave in the store, I'll give you a candy bar". No, my child heard me tell her "You WILL stop misbehaving, or I WILL warm you up in front of everyone here". Then when she calmed down, she heard me tell her to apologize to everyone in line for souring their day. I never had another problem after that.
No, it's my child's job to do well in school, just like it's my job to make sure they have clothes to wear to school. I expect nothing less, and I receive nothing less. Some reporting periods I get B's, some I get A's. What's important is that they have the knowledge of the information in their pretty little heads when it comes time for that knowledge to be used in the world, whether on a test, or in real life.
But where's the bribe? Listen to this: they don't even know about it yet, but the bribe is there.
When my children started going to Kindergarten (yes, all that time ago), I very quietly went to the bank, and I started an interest bearing account in their names. I paid my children to go to school. They get $.50 per hour to go to school, and the get bonuses for straight A's and high test scores based on guidelines that I laid out when they started. They have different amounts in the bank, due to different academic scores, but they're pretty comparable, and they are fair to their particular situations.
When the time comes that my girls want to drop out of high school for one reason or another (it happens to all of them), I will show them their bank statements. It's a pretty fair chunk of change, by now. Not Harvard money, but it's pretty reasonable.
"Daughter", I will tell them, "If you graduate high school, this will be yours. You can buy a car, you can buy a backpack and foot it across Europe, you can pay for your first semester of an Ivy League College, or 2 years somewhere closer. I don't care. If you're not sure, I can advise you. Whatever you choose, the money's yours, to do with what you like.
"If you DON'T graduate, I'm going on vacation. A LONG one."
And then I will look at them with one eyebrow raised, and I will ask, "Now, are you SURE you want to drop out"?

Lynn said...

God bless the bribe, huh? Without it, nothing would get done in Washington and CERTAINLY our parenting tactics would be far less effective. I'm with you, in that I believe it is our children's JOB to get good grades. What else do they have to worry about? We already do everything for them, the least they can do is reward us with A's. I love that you took it one step further and are paying your children to go to school. Someday, when your daughters are sitting around in their corner offices, or zooming around in their fancy cars, hopefully, they will thank you for having been so smart and so manipulative.

Just like any good parent should be.