Tween Life - New Drama S1:E1
Little El isn't so little these days. He's eleven and a half years old. He's becoming more responsible as he trips up on small but significant lessons life throws at him. One of these lessons, is learning how to manage his money and use it to effect.
Because we're a bit mean and quite frugal, I struggle with buying the children what I consider 'junk'. I don't mean just food, but all sorts of junk such as tut (throw away plastic items, one-use toys or cheap trinkets). I struggle with this for reasons such as environmental but also because wasting money (on stuff I don't feel is valid!!) is just something I can't deal with.
To combat this, Mr B and I have come up with a blummin' good solution. The kids both start off with £5 every Saturday. They are then requested to complete various chores and household tasks. If they decline or refuse, it's a 50p reduction. If they mis-behave, they get three warnings, which can be any deduction worth the warning. On a bad week, they've only received £1 or £2 but on a good week, they get the whole fiver.
We tried it the other way around to begin with: walk the dog for 50p. Empty the dishwasher for 50p. Absolutely having none of it. El tried to negotiate that emptying the dishwasher was no-way worth 50p and I tried to counter offer that five times doing that was half way to a whole five pounds. Not convinced at all.
Anyway, it works for us. Em likes to blow it all on sweets and false nails from Claire's Accessories; El has chosen to save his for a TV for his bedroom.
• To TV or not to TV •
Mr B is a gamer. He's always gamed. I like gaming too - I grew up with early-gen consoles such as my classic Spectrum ZX Plus and Amiga 500 but from my point of view things started to get a little complicated after Playstation 2s. All those buttons for a thousand commands just got a bit much for me so I retreated. Mr B however kept on trucking and the xBox has always been a feature in our home. We've also historically been quite short on space, so our living room has been the TV room/gaming room with the dining room as the eating/desktop/office space.
This means that we all have to share the TV and take it in turns. For the main part, this has worked. The kids watched their shows on Netflix after school, which has evolved into xBox screen time for two hours a day. Mr B then has his go on defeating the cosmic overlords on those days when it's my turn to see the kids to bed and sort out any bits and bobs around the house. So far, we've all managed to skirt around the one telly and juggle our claims on the magic box of light.
Last Christmas however, things changed slightly. El requested and was granted a Nintendo Wii which now has its own corner of the TV to fight for. Em wants to watch seemingly endless YouTube videos about all sorts of tweenage gibberish. Mr B needs to get his missions in (or raids, or whatever the latest battles are) and I just want to watch some good ol' fashioned reality crap (not as a general rule, but you know, sometimes, it's just the job?).
Because we like spending time together as family and it's important that we connect regularly, Mr B and I have always been very reluctant to put a TV in the kids' room. I'm also a bit of a stickler for the concept that TVs are not for bedrooms. Don't get me wrong: we have been known to snuggle up in bed with the laptop on occasion...but as a general rule, I'm all for the bedroom being a sanctuary away from 'downstairs'.
Anyway...for all the reasons above: El needing his own gaming space, the adults needing their own TV back, El showing his mature attitude to saving and just the the progression of our family, we've now moved forward and El has bought himself a TV.
• Scabby Bargains R US •
So it comes as no surprise in any way to anyone that knows us, that we didn't just pop over to Argos and buy the latest telly to market. Oh no...we are way too stingy for that!
Near to where we live, in South Wales is a ridiculously huge auction house. It's set in a warehouse, on an industrial estate and to say it sells everything and anything is as close to the truth as you can get. Clothes, furniture, electricals, bathrooms: everything. They are mostly returns, seconds and liquidised assets. It works a little like eBay: you go along to view the items and then the bids are open online for five days or so. You place your maximum bid and hope for the best.
Mr B and I love a browse, and a bargain so went along to see what all the fuss was about. There are a lot of electrical items amongst all sorts of other household items. Loads. Anyway, he managed to win a TV for £58 (after paying fees and VAT etc) which was as good as new, fully boxed with all the bits. When it came to collection, the guy next to him in the queue gave him the fear of god, telling him "whatever you do, don't buy electrical items from here. They never work and you don't have a leg to stand on when they go wrong". Gulp - cheers mate. As it turns out, the TV seems to work just fine (for now). Mr B brought it home and El proudly handed over his hard saved cash.
• The end of E1:S1 •
So here we are, moving forward into proper tweenage life. El now has a telly in his room. He's set up his Wii and made a space. He just needs to get a proper stand for it, but as we're likely to move within the next few months, he'll just use what's to hand.
The tiny 2.5m x 3m space is already a stink pit with piles of unwashed clothes and who-know-what else but it's becoming more and more his tiny space as the days go on. Well done little El; you played that round well.
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