Thursday, October 23, 2008

A cow stick guitar

Son's on holiday this fortnight. Husband's taken the week off. Our 'family holiday' means waking up late and doing things together, not getting away to another sunny space like I know many of his school mates are doing.

We went to Stonehenge yesterday -- which incidentally was beautifully sunny, if cold -- and on the journey there I heard mumbled statements from behind me about most of the boys in the Form below him taking up the guitar, and he would like to play 'a cow stick guitar'.

Me: A cow stick guitar? What's one of those? Tell me about it and I'll see what I can do.

Son: You know, all the other boys are playing electric guitar because the guitar teacher is trying to form a rock band. I want to play a cow stick guitar.

Suddenly the lights came on. I realized he meant the -- are you ready? --"acoustic guitar".

A cow stick guitar is not, after all, something you stick together with cow glue and a few rubber bands stretched over a fingerboard of sorts.

He's read the words but no one has told him how to pronounce them. So we add 'a cow stick guitar' to his 'chor-fer' ('chauffeur') to the funny words that he mis-pronounces (but used in the correct context).

That's my boy and I am very proud of him.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pocket Money

Despite some unhappiness yesterday over the lack of clarinet practice, he went to bed happy because he had collected £5.30 in total of pocket money.

The first miserly 30 pence was from me for cleaning the area around the dining table six days out of seven in the past week. He's let off on Friday as there is always a rush to get to Cubs. I didn't tell him to do this. He sort of decided that, yes, he could, and would, clean the floor with a brush and pan after dinner.

Then he broached the issue of pocket money.

For a boy who gets fed at school (our fees cover that) there is no need to have money to buy stuff, not like in my own childhood where we had to make our way to the 'tuckshop' to queue up for food, pay for it, eat it quickly and then get to play during our short breaks.

He tends also to get the toys, games, books, etc he would like to have sooner or later.

But I checked with my RGS girls -- decided to call them his 'RGS Aunties' -- for advice: give or don't give? The consensus was 'give'. Some pocket money, seeing it grow, learning how to use/spend/save/give it (to charity) teaches him how to budget.

There are lots of TV programmes which show how young British people have no idea what a 'budget' means. This credit card generation spends more than they earn and the debts pile up. 'Experts' come in to show them why they are spending like that (to express a sadness, eg) and how to stop this spending (usually beginning with cutting up every credit card) and setting a limit to what they could spend, or directing them to a useful second job.

I don't want my son to be like that. Poor though I was I thank God that Mum and Dad gave me pocket money and I had to learn to spend within my means from a very young age.

It used to be that getting a credit card was demonstration that we are earning enough, or that we had rich parents. I like spending on my credit card because the monthly statement tells me how much I had spent. I also pay off the whole sum when it's due.

Things have changed and banks and department stores have been throwing credit at shoppers, young and old. Perhaps one positive outcome of the credit crunch is that people begin to live within their means.

Son and his Dad washed my car yesterday. The car was filthy. It was the first time it had been washed since I had it, probably in March. He was happy washing it, it seemed. He does not get to wear his wellies very often. Said he should wear his other waterproofs the next time.

Dad gave him £5 for that, ignoring my suggestion that they should split the £5.

Not sure now how long this car washing -- or even floor brushing -- would go on for. But I think it is a good start.

Long may it last.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's Monday!

Another long, complicated day for poor son.

We've had a tough week/end. Dad was at work a lot. There was a virus attack on his office system late last week, they were scheduled to migrate data or whatever on the weekend, and then there was hardware failure as well.

Getting to the office was not easy as the Tube was not running. Dad was keen to go to church yesterday but realized that something was very wrong at work and we dropped him off at the station. Not only the Tube was down, the overland train was down and he ended up going to work on a Sunday in a coach.

So far the story was son has had to attend Band practice even though it clashes with drama rehearsal because Band has priority. But son forgot he had to go for early lunch which meant he had very little time to get his food and actually eat it. Thankfully the Head of Music (on lunch duty) let him off for not finishing his lunch. Late for Band.

Then there was some confusion over whether the boys were leaving for their football match straight after lunch, etc, etc. That upset him because he was fearful that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The boys lost all their matches against rival local school. Not a very happy bunch.

Not having very much to eat all day and tired he decided to -- and I let him -- come home instead of going to orchestra rehearsal. Actually he's been coping with a tummy ache and is right now sitting on the throne. I hope he is not reading as usual.

I feel that I should be stricter with him sometimes. But he is only eight. When I was eight I was not preparing for a grade 4 piano exam, attending drama, band and orchestra rehearsals, playing football matches, moving between classrooms for different subjects, and having to sort time-table clashes, etc with various teachers.

It's good to see him growing up, but there is no need to grow up that quickly.

He's still on the throne and I think I can hear him flipping pages. Bah!