You could certainly claim that entrepreneurship "runs" in the family, so maybe it won't surprise you to know that Elizabeth already has her first job. She's had a social insurance number pretty much since birth, so clearly child labour is sanctioned under Canadian law. I kid, I kid! Although we did register for her number online when we registered her birth as it was needed for RESPs.
Elizabeth is a bit young to really worry too much about allowances and all that, but she is quite interested in money, so Brendan and I started talking about what we wanted to do. Plus it didn't seem fair telling her that she can only get that toy if she bought it with her own money (a great way of stopping store-whining!) unless she had some source of income.
Usually parents either pay their children an allowance on a pre-set time schedule, or they pay them for certain defined chores. My parents took both approaches. I don't really remember what we did when I was very small, though I remember washing and vacuuming the cars for money. When I was sixteen my allowance was dramatically increased to a fairly generous $250, out of which I had to buy bus passes, clothing, shampoo and anything else I felt I "needed" or "wanted". I think they probably made money on that deal (my reluctance to spend money on clothes and shoes perhaps related), but I also learned a lot about budgeting and delaying expenses. I learned how to iron after I learned that my dad was paying the laundromat $2 for every shirt they ironed. I rashly offered $1/shirt, which I regretted after the first one took me more than an hour. I didn't quit though and eventually I picked up my speed... My parents never required me to save or tithe, but I managed to pick up both concepts anyway.
Brendan and I agreed that we wanted to avoid paying for chores, mostly because no one pays us to do them! We feel that Elizabeth needs to learn to keep her room tidy, help with supper, wash dishes and clean the bathrooms as a basic life skill. Brendan also recalls skipping his chores if he felt he didn't need the money, which we would not find amusing. We may revisit this later of course, since we're making this up as we go along.
We weren't terribly keen on just forking out money on a pre-defined schedule either. Cue brilliant if not terribly original idea: Elizabeth gets to "come to work" with Mommy and Daddy a couple of hours a week, and we pay her up to three shiny coins for doing so. The actual amount has tended to vary depending on what kind of change we have lying around. Luckily she doesn't know the difference yet!
In theory she loses a coin if she bothers Daddy at any point during "work time", and another one if she bothers Mommy. In practice we've only had to remind her a few times and the threat of taking away a coin is enough to get her back on track. Quite amusing though - the few times she forgets we'll ask her if she's talking to us. "No!" she whispers back. Most of the time she lets us work about an hour without any interruptions - assuming that she is sufficiently fed, watered and rested of course! We usually target somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, though she completed two hours well enough.
She has her own desk in the office and when "working" she can use non-messy craft supplies or play with her toys. The key is that she must be "quiet like a mouse" so that Mommy and Daddy can work too. If everyone works hard, then clients pay us and she gets her own portion. Brendan and I usually trade-off looking after Elizabeth which works well, but means that we don't have a lot of time to work together. This has the advantage of giving us time to collaborate on those projects that need it.
We've tried to save certain toys and craft materials for "work time" only, so that there's a bit of novelty to working as well. Elizabeth's favourite activity is cutting up paper into teeny tiny little pieces. I'm happy to report she has not glued anything to the walls, coloured on anything unsanctioned or cut any blankets. We had to ban unsupervised access to tape though, at least for the moment. We often put on some music in the background, mostly classical since Mommy finds it easiest to tune out!
On the whole it seems to be working well for us, aside from the time we had to raid Elizabeth's piggy bank in advance in order to be able to pay her (ahem). We're also still working on figuring out a transition out of "work time" - the timer tends to come as a surprise and then Brendan and I are scrambling to finish up what we were doing while trying to encourage Elizabeth to clean up her mess. What? Of course there's a mess! I'm thinking maybe a "clean-up" timer might help. Aside from scissors (and oh - how she loves her scissors), the other thing we bought for "work time" was a new garbage can. Elizabeth's inordinately proud of having her own. She even sometimes puts garbage in it, though it only took about fifteen seconds for her to figure out that it makes a cool hat with a portable echo.
Despite Grandma J's best efforts to avoid her birthday this year, we eventually celebrated in proper style with yummy Chinese food and gluten-free carrot cake. Grandma came back from epic cruising with Grandpa only to leave immediately on a week-long business trip, but now that she's back she says she's really retired now :) Elizabeth said that Grandma left Grandpa behind because Grandma knew that Elizabeth wanted to play with him. When she's three, Elizabeth's apparently going to go on a business trip too. And maybe she'll take Grandma with her. Or Grandpa. Because Grandma gets to go on more airplanes. Mommy doesn't get to go because Elizabeth will be big then.
Auntie Janice made Grandma those nifty earrings - my baby sister is pretty talented, yes?
RAWR! Elizabeth saw her second theatre "movie" today - Dinosaurs 3D at the museum of Nature with cousins Daniel and Josie.
Daniel found it pretty scary and insisted on watching most of it without the special glasses. Josie insisted on sitting in the front row in front of the rest of us. Every time something jumped out at us she turned around and whispered "THAT was SCARY". (I nearly got the giggles) Elizabeth was very quiet and snuggled on my lap the whole time, but kept the glasses on and obliged me by counting dinosaurs and pointing to babies and trees everytime I asked her a question to make sure she wasn't being traumatized for life. Afterwards she said that the only scary part was "waiting for the video" and "when they turned off the lights at the beginning". The dinosaurs themselves weren't scary, she said, rather dismissively.
We tried to get a few pictures with the "realistic" looking dinos, but the kids were not feeling cooperative. The resulting grumpy face video amuses me greatly. Daniel and Elizabeth were very into the dinosaurs, but Josie was more interested in the dawn horse display.
Elizabeth and I took Erika with us on our latest trip to the Agriculture museum. At goat feeding time (2:45pm every day!) Erika actually got to go inside the pen to pat all of the goats. Have I mentioned that now is a great time to visit this museum? It's quiet so the staff have time to go the extra mile. I decided Elizabeth wasn't ready for such an intense experience, especially since I wasn't invited! Good call since some of them like to shake hands by putting their hoofs on your chest. Erika wasn't sure what she thought of that, but rallied to pet all of the goats more than once. Brave girl! Elizabeth reckons she'll be ready to face the goats "when she's three", though she rather wistfully pointed out "I'm pretty big now, Mom!"
Then we went to visit the newest mommy cow, who was still in the process of birthing the placenta. The kids were fascinated, and full of questions, especially this one little boy whose mom seemed rather embarrassed by the whole thing. I personally think it's a bonus that visiting the farm means there are lots of opportunities to talk naturally about "the birds and the bees", but don't think the other mom felt the same way as she repeatedly told her son that they'd "discuss it later". Of course that meant that he just asked every. single. adult he met! Elizabeth has already seen an actual birth (baby pig) but she was still mesmerized. It was really chilly but she cried when I insisted it was time to keep moving. She was also blown away to learn that many of the cows are around her age when they first become moms. "I bet I have a baby in my tummy right now too", she said, pulling up her shirt so we could all pat her tummy. Erika thought it looked rather "ouch-y". "Did it hurt MY mom when she had me?" she demanded. I told her that moms don't mind once they have their babies.
Elizabeth and I visit the Agriculture Museum regularly, though we've cut back from our daily spring schedule. Despite frequent visits, she has never dared sit on the "horse" until friend Aidan did.
Elizabeth was very interested to see what the cows eat. We were able to look at the corn growing in the energy garden and see the bits all chopped up, ready to be put into the silo.