Monday, August 2, 2010

Greed is good. Right?

We're laying sod.  Ok, technically we're not laying sod yet, but we've been prepping for it.  Mr. Dog leveled the yard with fill dirt from under the house, then he got a crap load of compost to mix into the fill dirt so the sod would have something to grab ahold of other than the dusty, rocky fill.  He rototilled, he raked, he rototilled some more.  After the last bout of leveling, he invited the boys to help pick out the big rocks so the sod wouldn't have big lumps right under the surface.  They declined.  Then he offered them a penny per rock.  Guess what, Big Dog still wasn't interested.  He decided to negotiate.
"Maybe 2 cents per rock," he countered.  We quickly accepted.  If we gave him more time to reconsider he'd up the price again, he's like that.
Once we settled on a price, Big Dog got Little Dog excited about making money they could spend on toys or ice cream.  They worked quickly and with great focus.  It was about 15 minutes into their work that the boys started to quietly discuss renegotiating their deal.  Big Dog came across the yard and took my hand.  He asked me if they had to share the money or if they each got 2 cents per rock.  I said they'd each get 2 cents since it would be difficult to know who collected which rocks.  He went back to his brother and I could hear them talking again.  If we asked what they were saying, in unison, the boys would all too quickly reply, "Nothing!"
My favorite was when Little Dog says, "If we got him to give us 5 cents per rock, we could buy all of the ice cream!"  Ahh, the dreams of an innocent youth.
After filling a bucket and part of a wheelbarrow, the boys decided they were done.  Yes, most of the large rocks, sticks and lumps of stuff, all carefully verified as part of the financial deal before being added to their collection heaps, were picked up, but they were tired and thirsty.  They wanted to go inside.  They also wanted their money.  They wanted us to count the fruits of their labor right then and there.  We still had stuff do to, so we told them we'd do it that evening.  About every hour they'd come back and ask if it was time to count yet.
When it was time, I abandoned Mr. Dog to that task.  Turns out our boys had collected up 315 potential lumps under the sod.  True to our bargain we promised them $6.30 each, to be paid at a later date because honestly we just don't have cash and these kids don't take ATM cards quite yet.
I'm starting to wonder what other undesirable tasks I could outsource to the kids.  Laundry folding?  Probably not, they're still far to amused by the underpants of others to be productive.  Don't worry, I'll keep thinking about this and let you know what I come up with. And as always, I'm wide open for suggestions.


Sybil Runs Things said...

We totally do this! Our plum trees have been droping tons of rock-hard unripe plums for a few weeks. We pay the girls a penny a plum to pick them up. So far I think they have collectively earned almost $10! Totally worth it to me, though. It goes in with their allowance.

geekymummy said...

and you summed up why my husband doesn't ever get to fold laundry. He puts underpants on his head.

~lifedramatic~ said...

OooOOoOo how about loading dishes in the dishwasher, switching laundry from the washer to the dryer (flat rate?), collecting eggs from the chickens, sweeping the floors, wiping the countertops, putting away the silverware after the dishes get washed, pulling everything out of the fridge that you need to put dinner together and putting it neatly on the counter for you... that's all I can think of right now!!! LOL sounds like fun!!! Char

Don O. said...

Ah, little capitalists. My all time favorite was competition "quiet time" between my wife's niece and nephews. The winner got a shiny quarter. Amazingly, it took almost an hour and a half before they figured out they'd been had. Inflation, no doubt, would make this more costly today.

On another occasion I had them gather acorns in the front yard for a penny a piece. Got rid of a big jar of pennies and kept them busy for almost an hour.

You can also avoid the "counting" part by having each count the other's pile, as long as you don't let them "conference" first.

erin said...

i keep thinking i'm going to have my kids wipe down my baseboards... but haven't gotten around to it yet.
every fall i try to get them to pick up acorns for money, but it loses it's appeal pretty quickly..... i think my kids are just too damn smart. ugh.

Shannon said...

Considering their height at this age, have the boys do anything you would have to bend over or squat to do. Erin's baseboard idea is a good one.

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