"Mom," my 17-year-old squawked at me, "there's nothing to eat!"
Calmly, I responded with the same line I have utilized for the past 18-years, "There's plenty to eat; you just have to make yourself something."
Of course, my chromatic sapience was met with the oh-so-expected eyeball rolling of an adolescent.
Of this, I resolved that I had sustained nearly enough.
Therefore, I implemented what I fondly like to call, "Operation Object Lesson". Because my omniscient adolescent seemed to think she could do the subcontract of 'mum' more skillfully than I, I put her to the test.
Operation objective: Make omniscient adolescent produce a carte du jour, a shopping list and instruct her to do so within budgetary constraints.
Weapons: Debit card, $150 limit.
Once I listed the objectives and set the rules, I set her loose.
My teenage contender steamrollered through the house, looking for things we 'needed'; pen and paper in hand. She jotted down each particular, positive that she was going to have me licked.
She sieved through a few recipes and added those menu items to the list. From here, my valiant warrior mobilized her troops (my other two girls) for the mission at hand. She yearned for them to observe her in her most victorious of moments. With borderline kvetching, they peeled themselves away from their activities to support their Alpha sibling.
The escapade commences
"First, we're going to Wal-Mart to get household items and hygiene supplies," she pronounced, unbendable in her self-confidence. She bore on, "Then we're going to the grocery store."
She snatched up the car keys and we were away.
I trolled behind the twins as they hotfooted through Wal-Mart, adding things to the cart with nary a clue as to how much the particulars we going to cost come check out time. As all of the items on the 'list' were struck off, my firstborn brazenly proffered to buy a few goodies for the other two sprogs, since "she got this". Naturally, the other two were jubilant at her victory.
Me? I'm not certain if you are able to call gloating the same thing as jubilant, but I was grinning all the same.
Once we got to the register I inquired, "Any idea how much you spent?"
She responded without hesitancy, "Sixty bucks."
I smiled, and said, "All right, we'll see."
I kept an eye on her expression as the sum crept past her $60 prevision. The color started to wash completely out of her face when it passed $85. And once her tally hit $102.72, she was in an all-out flop sweat.
Hand shaking a trifle, she paid-up for the goods and examined her list as we exited the depot. She hadn't even made it through one-half of it.
As we walked to the car, I postulated, "An itty-bitty more than you expected?"
Humbleness had abruptly crept into her demeanor, "I had no idea it was going to be this unaffordable."
To the Grocery Store!
This round, the twins were suddenly ultra- cognizant of the prices. I was nothing short of altogether amused.
I watched as all three of my nestlings abruptly 'recalled' something that wasn't on the list and added it to our growing inventory. My stubborn sprog began to get a shade frazzled.
As I snapped up some cubed chicken and tossed it in the cart, she said, "That's not on the list."
I grinned and responded, "Welcome to the last 18-years of my life story."
She smiled back at me. She was, after all, accustomed my caustic remarks.
And then came the decisive moment. Midway through the store, my eldest sprog acknowledged that she had blown her budget. She threw her hands up in the air, and stated, "I forfeit. I'm over budget. I don't even know what to do. I can't afford it all." I assured her to keep on, and told her that we'd sort it all out at the finish.
We made it to the cash register and my eldest witnessed her tally. She had come in $62 over her allotment, and hadn't bought nearly as much as she 'thought' she could with $150.
When we headed to the car I asked her, "Did you learn something today?"
She answered, "Yea. Everything is more high-priced than I knew, and this stuff is challenging." Of course, the interminable smart aleck, she added, "And I also learned that you need to make more money."
I grinned. I was, after all, accustomed her caustic remarks too.
In the end...
By the time the operation was through with, my know-it-all teenager had a salubrious respect for the occupation of mum, thanks to a good, old-fashioned dose of realism. If there's one thing I know, it's that there is nary a better instructor than experience, and a little object lesson never hurt anybody.
Altogether, I'd say mission complete.
All the same, just to make my point strike home (and because I wanted to have a little fun), once we got back home and once all of the food was unpacked, I joked, "Hey! There's nothing to eat!"
That got me a giggle and an eyeball roll. I can deal with that.
How do you use object lessons to teach your kids some of the harder lessons in life?
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