That’s it! My 9-year-old son has left his last pair of dirty socks on the living room floor! I’m serious. I’ve had it. It suddenly dawned on me this morning. I’m an idiot. I am constantly asking him to pick up his socks. I try to be nice about it, try not to harangue. But NOTHING works. Every morning I find a myriad of socks on the floor throughout the house. For a while I just picked them up and threw them in his hamper myself. At least then I didn’t have to look at them and be annoyed all day until he came home from school and I forced him to pick them up and put them in the laundry. But no more.
I am collecting the socks from this point forward. So far I have 7. (Not sure how that happened.) And here’s the fun part; when he runs out of socks, he runs out of socks. I don’t have to yell at him or be critical or even upset myself over it. I simply pick up the socks, put them in a bin in the back of my closet and wait patiently to see how he reacts when he has no more socks. (Technically, I should be throwing them away each time I find them. But I can’t quite get myself to do that. So I’m hiding them away and pretending they no longer exist.)
Frankly, I’m taking a sort of perverse pleasure in imagining his reaction the day he runs out of socks completely. “Mom,” he’ll undoubtedly shriek across the house, “I don’t have any socks to wear.”
“Wow,” I’ll say calmly with the pathos of Mother Theresa, “That’s a bummer. What are you gonna do about it?”
“What do you mean?” he’ll stammer. “Where are my socks?”
“Gosh honey, I have no idea,” I’ll empathetically respond. “Where did you last leave them?”
In my fantasy, he flashes back to every moment he carelessly jettisoned his socks across an otherwise neatly kept room in the house and immediately realizes the error of his ways.
“Oh mom,” he’ll say with complacency, “I guess I’ll have to go to school without socks today.”
“I guess so, sweetie,” I’ll warmly agree.
And here’s the really hard part. I will then have to seal my lips and say nothing more. That’s what my “Love and Logic” tapes say. Let him come up with a solution. (The only one I can think of is having to use his own allowance to purchase new socks.) And thus, he deals with the consequences of his actions. Period. End of story.
Until of course he leaves the new socks strewn across the house. My belief, however, is that he’s an extremely smart boy and will eventually learn how to be responsible for his personal items.
Please tell me this is going to work.
Well, Debra, that scheme would work but for one small thing; the kid is nine. Unless you throw him the car keys and say, “Better go buy yourself some new socks”, ya might have a backfire on your hands. Sure, he could use some of his allowance loot to buy a bus ticket (unless his allowance is generous enough for him to call a cab.) Otherwise, you are gonna have to schlep him to Target to buy the socks, in which case you’re bailing him out thus losing the game. So the next thing I would consider is, How do the buses run in your neighborhood?