Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, but only after you finish your homework

My son's birthday is later this month. He'll be turning 12. This is an amazing thing from my perspective -- my oldest child is turning 12 and is going into 7th grade. Holy cow!

As you might expect, his birthday wishes have changed quite a bit over the years. No more Thomas the Tank Engine, no more Legos, no more Bionicles, no more Pokemon cards. What has the boy wanted the past few birthdays and Christmases? Video games -- and unlimited time to play them. Over time, we bought him a couple of systems and a fair number of games.

I'm sure you can imagine my son's distress when the PS2 died without possibility of resuscitation some weeks ago. (We had brought it back to life once before with Q-Tips and alcohol, but no such luck this time around.) It gives new meaning to "weeping and gnashing of teeth"! Unbeknownst to him, we decided that we'd upgrade his PS2 to a PS3 for his birthday.

Remember I said that his birthday is later this month? So is the start of school. No matter how you look at it, it just isn't fair to give a kid a new gaming system and/or game and tell him that he can't play it because he has to go to school. And given that he has OCD characteristics and "OCs" over a new game for days, even weeks, the first time he plays it, it's very unfair.

Another factor in the equation is that he has summer math homework. It's not hard -- just review from 6th-grade Pre-Algebra. And he's allowed to use resources, including parents, for questions he might not have learned or doesn't remember. But there are 149 questions.
He'd rather do just about anything than his homework, so it's been a bit of a struggle to get him to finish. At our insistence and with much grumbling, apparently on both sides, he's worked on them all summer. He has maybe 25 more to go.

We brought home the PS3 yesterday, and now it's the carrot for getting those 25 problems done. Is it cruel or very clever of us to say,

"Happy Birthday, son,
but only after you finish your homework!"

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