Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Big Rip-Off

My son has a marble jar, which comes in handy when I want him to learn a new behavior/habit. I washed an empty peanut butter jar, bought some blue floral arrangement marbles at the local craft store, and drew up a chart. The chart has six items on it: brushing teeth, going potty, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water, putting away toys, and getting dressed. Each one has a little picture next to it, since my son can't read.

The idea is that the kiddo gets a marble each time he completes one of these tasks, and when he collects enough marbles, he gets to choose a small prize from a bucket I keep in the cupboard. The bucket contains mainly Hotwheels cars and superballs, although occasionally I throw candy or odd little games in it. However, I made the marble jar chart back in the days when things like going potty and brushing teeth were a big deal -- now they're old hat, and we haven't been using the marble jar all that much lately.

This morning there were a lot of pieces of paper scattered around the living room -- tissue paper from wrapping presents for an upcoming shower, old valentines, etc. -- so I told the kiddo I'd give him one marble for each piece of paper he collected and put in a pile to be thrown away. He was excited at the prospect of earning a lot of marbles (and possibly a prize) all at once, and promised me he'd start on the task in a minute. I went upstairs to brush my teeth and heard little noises coming from downstairs: squeaking floorboards, shuffling, and...ripping?

Yes, the kiddo thought he'd tear up some of the larger papers to boost his paper count and get more marbles. I put the kibosh on that and although he grumbled a bit, he collected the rest of the papers without incident. Still, I'm sorta thinking he might someday find a career in government.

Then again, when I went downstairs to count the papers he'd collected, he voluntarily removed the papers he'd torn up, so maybe not. ;^)