This morning, I saw a pile of bills in her playroom, and it reminded me that I owed her $5 for thoroughly cleaning the refrigerator a couple weeks back. It was the first idea I came up with during a patch when she repeatedly asked me how she could make $30.
So, I asked her to come to my desk this morning to settle up
Me – “I owe you five dollars for cleaning the fridge a while back, but all I have on me is a $20 bill.”
This was an opportunity to work on some math, so I took a scrap paper and explained best I could how the numbers computed. In short, she would need to give me $15 from her pile as I gave her the $20 bill.
This bothered her greatly. She didn’t want to do it.
In fact, she teared up.
Expecting delight to get five dollars, I was surprised.
Me – “Don’t you understand? You’re going to have $24 in your pile after this instead of $19.”
She was still unsure, so I asked her if she wanted to think about it. She disappeared into her playroom in an unusually sullen state to play a game on her tablet.
I tried explaining it many ways with little progress. I admit getting a trifle frustrated that she wouldn’t just take the money, but I kept that in check and focused on helping her understand. It seemed to me that, though she understood that she would end up with more money with a $20 bill and her remaining four dollars, it felt smaller as it would be a significantly smaller pile.
At one point, she decided that she preferred to have less.
Her – “You keep the five dollars.”
Me – “Bellina, that makes no sense. Okay, well, if you don’t want more money, I’ll keep it, but you did clean the fridge and I agreed to pay you.”
Once again she returned to her playroom, and I let her relax for a while before approaching her again to persuade her to collect. She eventually accepted the $20 bill. I made sure that she wasn’t doing it to please me but because she knew it was an increase in her total despite the smaller pile.
Guess this is a perfect example of how what we feel is often more compelling than what logic tell us. Important to keep in mind with people generally and especially with kids.