I like kids who take the initiative. It might be about joining a club, inviting friends over, starting a new hobby or project, or just about anything that expresses their personalities in action. Kids who hang back and only follow parental orders never develop independence. They are too passive and not self-reliant enough. If they don’t do this on their own, you have to encourage them with special rewards. You have to provide any motivation that isn’t there.

With my son, there is plenty of that to go around. He went out and bought a new bike with his own money. He had saved for weeks and months using money earned from cutting the grass, raking the leaves, cleaning the garage, scrubbing the porch, and washing the car. There was a job he would turn down. I knew something was afoot. He had been talking about a new bike for a while, and it pleased me no end that he didn’t just expect me to give it to him as when he was a small boy. Most of his friends wither delivered papers or performed tasks for the neighbors like walking their dogs. He took that as a good example and quickly jumped on board. I am very proud of him. Don’t you wish all kinds took this kind of initiative? It makes for stronger adults. Kids now are too coddled and don’t know how to make their way in the world.

It’s a great used bike with plenty of miles left on the tires. Most of the parts are working and all it needs is a little oil. It is comfortable except for the seat so I decided to replace the bike saddle with a better one that I found here. They are easy to find at bike stores or junkyards and we made it our special projects to refurbish it. We cleaned the leather and applied a special stain just for this purpose. He had worked so hard to get the bike that I wanted to make sure it was a comfortable ride. We learned how to attach and adjust the seat with a few tools in the garage, and now my son could alter it anyway he wanted after a few test rides.

I love these mom and me projects and so does my son. It is part of why he is an initiator. He wants to please and involve me. It is the best way I know to bond with him since I don’t play his kind of sports or like to watch his preferred video games. Somehow in his daily life I used to get lost in the shuffle. It just so happens that he found the solution on his own. He later confessed that he had hoped I would help him repair and restore the bike. I could also help him paint or at least suggest some nice colors. It was truly a labor of mother-son love.

Requests and Responsibilities

I am a counselor so I have to be flexible and listen to all sides of a story. You have to use your instincts to trust what people say. When it comes to your own kids you have an advantage. You already know their point of view. This became important when there was a big family discussion/argument over putting in a pool. The kids were adamant about needing one for the summer and they would invite friends and family, not to mention neighbors to indulge. It would be the center of their social life, not that they didn’t already have one. I understood. Water recreation is really fun for kids and in our area, few families had pools, above ground or otherwise. So the kids had to get a ride to the community center and they complained that the pool had too much chlorine and that it was often too crowded. They wanted to be at home where they could rest on lounge chairs or have a snack.

I listened attentively and decided to concede. They could use a new form of recreation to get them away from video games. It is a positive that they wanted to have guests. Kids need social outlets and to learn to get along. I agreed, however, that it would be an above ground pool as I felt it was safer, not to mention cheaper to install. They come in large sizes and I would pick one that would be suitable for our size yard. I wanted lots of kids to be able to swim at the same time. I might add a heater if I thought they would use it year round and of course we would need a vacuum to maintain cleanliness. I laid out my rules. Safety was a priority. They also had to be willing to vacuum the pool once a week so I would not be the one getting rid of debris and leaves. I would take care of the chemicals for the water and make sure they were non-toxic, but still did their job. So everyone would take part in the pool effort which would make it that much more enjoyable. It was a source of fun and also responsibility. Never, as a parent, overlook possibilities to assign chores. Even at a young age, kids can do many things and it isn’t difficult to vacuum a pool. The device isn’t heavy and it works quickly, making it a snap job.

When the pool was in, everything proceeded as planned. The kids used the pool enough to justify the expense. They were well behaved, obeyed the rules, and took care of maintenance. Their little friends were only too willing to help. They actually thought it was fun. I thought it was marvelous. I had inaugurated an effective pool system.

Don’t Just Give. Make Them Earn.

Brand names in designer clothing, handbags, shoes, and watches are part of the celebrity culture. It matters to buyers who appears in the ads. My kids are like others in wanting only the right kind of sneakers, for example. They won’t settle for anything less, no matter the price. All of a sudden they are into Invicta watches which they see online and constantly on the TV. You could say that they have their hearts set on getting one—and it would of course be from me. Fortunately, they come in all price ranges, some rather modest. I am not going to get each kid a $500 watch. Some run up to a thousand or more due to the special features like water resistance to 300 feet. Even at the lower price range, the Swiss watch is finely crafted and the perfect accessory for anyone who wants function and style. Not that my kids understand this: they haven’t read any reviews of invicta watches, they just go with the name because they’ve seen it posted regularly on someone’s Instagram account. But it is nice to know that a budget watch will be durable and last quite a while.

Although I could get two watches for a couple hundred dollars, I want the kids to earn them by doing household chores. I will assign a dollar value to each task and when they reach the target amount-the cost of the watch—they will get their prize. I am not going to just hand it over. I want to impart a lesson here about entitlement and how a child should merit something special. Sure, you can give the watch for a birthday present any time, but that will not solve my problem of their brand obsession.

So everyone got a chore list and we designated a weekend to do them all at once. At the end of the time period, we would tally the job value and see who gets a watch. There would be a little competition going on to be sure. I could count on their dedication and commitment to this game knowing how much they wanted an Invicta watch. Oh, how I wish they would stop looking at advertisements. But they also get wind of everything they want from other kids in school. This practice is never going to stop whether it pertains to sneakers, watches, jackets, backpacks, or skates.

The weekend chore session went well as expected. The kids knocked themselves to complete their tasks quickly so they could go on to others. They said they wanted to do extra work to be sure to reach their target mark. I got a kick out of this attitude. By Sunday afternoon, the event was over and lo and behold, both kids had earned a watch. It was celebration time and we went out for ice cream. Each kid selected a watch they liked within a certain price range. I had to okay it of course. It would take a few days to have them delivered. Everyone was happy.

The Things We Do

I hate to see budget cuts affect good people who make a clear contribution. At my school, some of these cuts are jeopardizing the school nurse and her ability to function optimally. For example, she needed an otoscope to examine the ears and had to buy one out of her own pocket. It shouldn’t have to be that way. The school should be able to afford to replace it. They questioned the need for it at all.

An otoscope is a medical device with which one can check the ears and they are regularly used by health care providers to help detect problems that are revealed in this area. A school nurse definitely needs such a diagnostic tool. She uses it all the time to view the ear canal and tympanic membrane or eardrum. This is important because the eardrum is the dividing border that separates the external ear canal from the middle ear and many conditions can be detected here. Plus, she would be able to spot excess ear wax, any pus, skin edema, a foreign object, or signs of disease. The school’s judgment was clearly wrong.

So what is this thing anyway? It is a handle and a head basically, the head being the light source and a low-power magnifying lens (about 3.00x Mag). The front end of the otoscope has an attachment for an ear specula, a disposable plastic piece. So after the nurse straightens the ear canal, she inserts the ear speculum into the external ear carefully to avoid injury. As she looks through the lens, she can spot problems. It is a basic aspect of her medical examination on students who complain of earaches. She can attach a device to remove earwax or use a pneumatic otoscope to push air into the canal to see the mobility of the eardrum. This adds to the cost of course. Because it was her own expense, she bought the portable and not wall-mounted model. It is a battery-operated instrument that is rechargeable. With a nasal speculum you can look at the patient’s inner nose and without it the upper throat.

Since we are getting into detail here, the type of gadget she bought suitable for a school medical room is monocular. You can a two-dimensional view of the contents of the ear canal and a glimpse of the eardrum and its status. You need more depth perception to do a proper job in a doctor’s office, for example, but this means a different type of device that requires more training and skill. The nurse will have to make do with this one-eyed construction. She says it is sufficient for her needs. She isn’t worried about misdiagnosis or she would come up with the money for a binocular microscope attachment.

As I understand it, she got a set that included an otoscope, a convertible rechargeable handle, a halogen lamp, and a set of reusable polypropylene pneumatic, operating, and consulting specula. The long-lasting lamp shows true tissue color and the fiber-optic light offers cool illumination. The open system makes the otoscope convenient to use during procedures, if the nurse were to perform any, while the rotatable lens and specula ensure ease of use. She clearly didn’t spare any expense on her choice of medical device.