My father was a lousy-ass provider but a decent and creative parent. I always appreciated his creativity, especially now that I’m a parent and understand that “creative parenting” often takes more effort and energy than the traditional parenting tactics. Some of my favorite creative parenting tactics employed by my father:
1) If I didn’t put my shoes away, I’d find them in the yard the next morning;
2) If I didn’t take out the trash, I’d wake up with the trash in my bed;
3) One time, my father called me over at a friend’s house, about 5 miles away from my home, and told me there was an emergency and I had to run home immediately. I ran 5 miles through the heat and humidity of an Arkansas summer, and when I got home, I breathlessly asked, “What’s the emergency? Is everything OK?” And my father said, “You forgot to turn out your light, son.”
4) When my father finally got sick of dishes stacking up in the sink, he threw them all away, except that each child got his or her own cup, plate, spoon, knife, bowl, and fork, and they each had our names on them. We were responsible for our own dishes, and if they were dirty, we had to clean them before we could eat.
5) When I was in second grade and got caught stealing money out of my father’s wallet, he called a police officer, and that officer came to our house and put the fear of God into me. I never stole again.
6) When I was 16, we got into a fight and I told him I’ve been raising myself for years and didn’t need him. He kicked me out. I lived in my car for three days.
The man took pride in his parenting strategies, and for the most part (at least with me), the lessons stuck, and I try to be mindful of those lessons when parenting my own children. It’s a lot easier to put away your kid’s lunchbox or pick up his socks for him, but I still try and make him do it, even if it means it takes 5 minutes instead of 30 seconds to talk him through some bullshit that still hasn’t registered in his brain.
That said, when Petr posted this over on Slack, once I got over the white-hot anger, I could feel my father’s parenting techniques kick in:
We’re not given a lot of context here — like how old the child is — but it doesn’t matter. That’s $25. I know that the present value of $25 is not as much as it was when we were kids, but that’s still $25, and any kid that gets a $25 allowance should be fucking grateful as hell.
So, if you’re a parent, what would you do?
I am pretty sure I know what my father would do, and I’m pretty sure he would serve that shredded money on my dinner plate every single night until I ate it, and I would not get dinner again until I had. Or he’d play the long game: He’s say nothing, and then wait until I’d saved a lot of money and went out to buy something I really wanted, and then he’d destroy it right in front of my face.
TK, on the other hand, offered this: “I’d make the kid tape the money back together, and then tell them to use it to go a locksmith and buy new keys, because I’m changing the locks on their ass.”