Thursday, July 07, 2011

Trying to avoid being the biggest bastard parent of all time

“£200 EACH??? You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“Stop fussing, we’ll pay you back. Now type your credit card details in there!”

About 12 months ago I was forced to sit at the computer with my credit card at the ready for 9am on the day of the ticket release, with the 2 of them breathing down my neck. “Click there! No!!! Not there! THERE!!! 2 tickets! Now, go to the checkout! NO!!! Click THERE!!!”

And so it is, a year later, my 16-year-old son, Rogan, is off to Scotland’s biggest music festival, T in the Park, today with his big sister, Holly. The festival is so popular, the tickets are released for the following festival barely a few days after the weekend is over, and are sold out within a matter of hours.

Holly paid me back within a couple of weeks, and Rogan immediately paid me about half from the last of his savings. After several months had passed, however, he didn’t look like he was going to come up with the rest of the money. Each time I mentioned it he’d give me a scornful “I know!” in that voice familiar to parents of teenagers the world over.

“I’m warning you, if you don’t pay me back, I’m selling your ticket on ebay the week before and doubling my money!” But he’d already left the room. Clearly he wasn’t taking me seriously.

To be honest, I was starting to get a little irritated, in that way familiar to parents of teenagers the world over. For some reason no one could fathom and Rogan couldn’t give a good reason for, he’d given up his cakes business, but hadn’t replaced it with any other form of money making process. He’d made vague noises about getting a paper round, although considering this would have meant getting up early and working many hours for peanuts, he didn’t put a huge amount of effort into tracking one down.

With a sinking heart I realised my son assumed I’d let him go anyway, regardless of whether he paid me back. And if that was the case, then where was the incentive to work to pay off the ticket?

I was going to have to convince him I wasn’t bluffing. Hell, I was going to have to convince myself I wasn’t bluffing – could I really face being the biggest bastard parent of all time who wouldn’t let him go when he’d been anticipating it all year? It’s one thing to know you have to be consistent with your children, but no parent wants to be despised by his child.

So over a series of talks earlier this year I managed to get him to see that if I let him off, then I would be teaching him all the wrong lessons in life. He had to learn that he couldn’t assume other people would just bail him out if he made no effort. And that lesson was so important, that I was prepared to be the biggest bastard parent of all time, however much I didn’t want to be.

Fortunately something clicked and that weekend he went up and down the high street of Castle Douglas, calling into shops asking if they needed anyone for a Saturday job. He met with no success. Eventually, however, it seemed to dawn on him that he had a track record of creating highly profitable home-baking stalls so he arranged to sell scones, cupcakes and tablet at Castle Douglas Food Town Day, The Kirkcudbright Medieval Fayre, and the Galloway Children’s Festival.

He made enough money to pay off his festival ticket, sort out bus and train tickets there and back, buy a sleeping bag and rucksack and still have plenty of spending money.

Apart from being very proud of him, I’m mainly just incredibly relieved that I didn’t have to become the biggest bastard parent of all time.

The two of them spent about 3 hours in the garden the other evening trying to figure out how to get the tent up. It was dry and sunny. The weather forecast for this weekend is for heavy rain and possibly lightening storms.

I expect I’ll be picking up two very wet people from the train station on Monday, full of stories of their adventures.

32 comments:

LegalMist said...

I'm glad, for both of you (all three of you, really), that it worked out so well.

A fine parenting moment!

Pat said...

Oh I'm so glad you stuck to your guns. Rogan is a smashing boy and deserves nothing less than the best in strict, caring parenthood.
If only some of the parents of today would realise that.
I'm sure they will both enjoy it all the more knowing they have earned it.
Excellently done Kim.

allencapoferri said...

I had to smile while reading this post because my daughter & I relate so similar to what you wrote.

Ponita in Real Life said...

You wouldn't be the biggest bastard parent of all time in the least! Like you had told him, you didn't want him to learn all the wrong lessons in life.

You'd be teaching him responsibility and that actions (or non-actions) can have dire consequences... something every young person needs to learn!

Good for you for sticking to you guns (even if it was just in your head) and good for Rogan for manning up and taking care of his debt.

V said...

He'll have a ball, and it enjoy it even more for having achieved it all on his own entrepreneurship! I suspect that you've proven a bit of good communication never goes amiss.

Kim Ayres said...

LegalMist - it has more of a feel of a lucky parenting moment - these things can so easily spiral out of control when dealing with teenagers

Pat - we have our moments, of course, but he is a good lad and I'm always relieved when he sees sense

Allen - I know your daughter is a teenager, so I imagine our experiences are fairly universal :)

Ponita - Although I would have stuck to my guns, I would have hated myself at the same time, so I'm just relieved it didn't come to that :)

V - it's always worth talking before shouting and imposing sanctions - if the former is done well, then the latter is oftne unnecessary. I just wish more people would realise that

Library girl said...

LOL my Dad would often say "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you". I used to think he was being a smartarse but as a mother of 3 teenagers, I now fully understand!So glad you got a great result :)

hope said...

Thank heaven there are still adults in the world! Good for you!

How does anyone learn if there isn't a line drawn in the sand...a line which is enforced?

He may not thank you now, but he won't forget. Standing ovation!

snoble24 said...

im glad you did that. it would be hard and hed think of you as a bastard dad but in the end you wouldnt be. you would be the parent trying to get your kid to pay there own bills and take care of things themselves. if you didnt do that he might end up being one of those people who always bums money from friends and family and never pays back and eventualy gets suied and then still not pay them and get arrested for atempt of court.belive me theres many of them and most of them got that way by there parents not teaching them they dont get everything for nothing.there parents not teaching them to pay there own bills and make money they can and take care of themselvs and be responsible. you telling him that you would and if you ended up haveing to would of been great parenting becuase it teach them how to be responsible adults and that is the best leson you can give them

Nan said...

Hoo-ray!!! Parents everywhere are proud of you and your son!

Jayne said...

Well done to both of you :-) There's always the possibility it was a psychological battle - you for not wanting to resort to the bastard parent of all time & Rosh for maybe thinking he could get away with owing you the outstanding amount - I'm really pleased it never came to a 'showdown' :-)

Rachel Fox said...

Good work both men!
x

ruthie said...

The joy & pains of parenthood, this so brings back memories from my girls teen years, and now child number three is at the very same stage and i have a similar problem with his payback for his wickerman ticket. I am trying to avoid the very same feelings ;-) Hope they both have an amazing 1st big festival adventure.

Kim Ayres said...

Library Girl - it's true - I never understood that phrase as a kid. You need to be a parent before you do, I think :)

Hope - now he has his money, and has paid for everything, he's fine about it :)

Snoble24 - for all those reasons, I knew it was the right thing to do, but even as a parent, we don't always want to have to inflict discipline on our kids. We desperately hope they will work it out for themselves, so often leave it until the very last minute before we have to come down hard

Nan - thank you :)

Jayne - so am I :)

Rachel - thank you :)

Ruthie - only 2 weeks - hope your son gets his money sorted in time! We're not camping over, but Rogan and I will be going along to the Wickerman. I'm currently taking photos of the different stages of Trevor Leat & Alex Rigg's sculpture taking shape, so I'll need to get shots of it going up in flames too

mapstew said...

Thankfully I never have that problem, as my (one & only) credit card is always maxed out!

I've brought my kids up to buy 'stuff' when they have the money for such, and yes, it works. They are very independant money wise (cos their parents have none!), but we have always told them we will 'bail them out' of serious situations if we can (as I'm sure you would do) when they cannot do so themselves, for we are parents for life, and even when they are adults, our kids will always be our babies.

Have a lovely weekend sir, and try not to worry too much 'bout the kids at the festival (as I DID last year!) :¬)

Z said...

You must have rather wished, for a while, that you had not made such a stand earlier. Once the threat has been made, you have to be prepared to carry it through. Good for Rogan for stepping up and taking responsibility. And well played you, too!

Furthermore, this long time after you paid the bill, it felt like a bonus to get cash back, I expect.

Poppy Daydreams said...

Kids hey...!!!

Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and keep it down.

Good on Rogan for being so mature and finding a solution to pay for his ticket.

Hope Rogan and his sister have a fab time... and that the weather is kind to them (and the tent..!)

TalesNTypos said...

Did someone say 'cake'?
:-P

Jacqui said...

Tough call to make. So glad it didn't go down to the wire!

Sandy's witterings said...

His cakes were very tasty (I ate 2). Good to hear they were going to a good cause. Hope to get a small report on how Blondie were the next time I bump into him - mind you,1978 was a long time ago, he's probably looked at his program and said, "Who?".

erika said...

I'm so relieved the story had a happy ending. I was nervous for the both of you :)

Carole said...

Nice to know you avoided being considered a bad parent. Knowing kids, there is a chance you'll get another opportunity. Play it as well as you did this one and you'll come out smelling like a rose.

Eryl said...

Great story, well done both of you. Of course, I would expect nothing less from a philosopher and his son!

Sharon Longworth said...

I know I've ducked out of similar ultimatums with my kids in the past - the bit of me that loves them too much nags away saying I should always do everything I can to make them happy. But I know that in the long run, your way is better - both for you and your kids, so I admire your stand and I'm so pleased it worked out. Your son is a credit to you.

Theanne and Baron said...

I wish I'd had your wisdom when my son was a teen...Rogan has learned something so valuable. Teens really want discipline and consistency(or so my son told me). So happy days to you and Rogan! Look forward to hearing about "the all paid for adventure."

Kim Ayres said...

Mapstew - it's true about the need to instil in them a sense of being independent with money, especially when the parents have none.

The reason he started his cakes business in the first place was because he wanted to go skiing with the school and we told him we couldn't afford it so he'd have to pay. And in the end he was able to put £350 towards it.

We were dead impressed. He makes more money than I do and he's only 16...

Z - it does feel a bit like getting a tax rebate - somehow disconnected with payments made many months ago :)

Poppy - well the weather wasn't that kind to them, and it really wasn't kind to the tent, however, they did indeed have a fab time :)

Adila - in this house someone is always saying cake ;)

Jacqui - so am I :)

Sandy - you're a loyal customer - perhaps you should ask him to create a loyalty card so when you've bought 10 you automatically get one free :)

Erika - not as nervous as I was... :)

Carole - you're right, that opportunity is never far away :)

Eryl - as you're a philosopher and have a son, I take it you've had similar things with Bob?

Sharon - kids are too good at sniffing out when we're bluffing :)

Theanne & Baron - when I was a kid I had no real boundaries. My parents were of a generation where they felt they'd been far too strictly bound by theirs, so thought the thing to do was give their kids free rein. Unfortunately I don't believe that worked particularly well either. So I've tried to gve my kids firm boundaries, but with flexibility and the opportunities to expand or change the boundaries if they can justify it

Mary Witzl said...

Eek -- they were out there in that torrential rain last night?

Well done, weathering all the angst of wondering if you were going to be reimbursed. We've had similar issues with our girls, and they almost always pay us back. But I can assure you that I HAVE been the biggest bastard parent, so you couldn't have claimed that distinction. ;o)

Kim Ayres said...

It was last weekend, Mary, but yes they did have to put up with some serious rain :)

ruthie said...

Kim, mission accomplished thanks to a hint or two from yourself we have 1 fully reimbursed parent & one very happy & now totally hooked to music festivals teenager. Hope your festival goers had fun too. survived. Here's to next year. Hope you managed to get some great shots of the horned wickerman.

Kim Ayres said...

Ruthie - glad you managed to get it all worked out in the end!

Hope the Arts Trail goes well for you this weekend :)

JustAMike said...

I think you handled that brilliantly!!

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you Mike :)