Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Natural Consequence Story

Note: This blog post was written in May 2009 but had not been published. At the end is an update revealing how this turned out as of July 2009.

As I write this there is tension in the home. Yet again my eleven year old's disorganization has resulted in something getting lost, something he needs for his comfort and well-being.

Last fall the eleven year old finally outgrew the largest size of a boy's raincoat. We had to move up to men's sizes. He needed a lightweight rain jacket with a hood to wear especially on Boy Scout camping trips when he'd be forced to spend hours outdoors despite it raining. Men's outerwear is not cheap you know. We got this one on SALE at the LL Bean factory outlet for just over $40.

I'm suddenly realizing this about clothing costs. I thought kid's clothes were expensive before. I note that a boys XL is usually the same in measurement as a men's small but even in the same brand and same style the price jump for the men's size is huge. My brother-in-law complains of this also with girl's clothing. His issue is his middle school grade daughters say it is a stigma to wear outerwear or shoes in girls sizes, they want women's XS or S size for the winter coats or the different size of shoes and sneakers but the price change is sometimes $75-100 higher for the women's size especially with high quality ski jackets and with the Uggs. My nieces report that the other girls at school read the bottoms of their Uggs to see who is wearing girl's sizes versus women's sizes and ditto for the winter coats and other outerwear. Upon hearing things like that I am glad I have two boys and no daughters. I feel for them with their peer pressure situations but my practical side would go ballistic when faced with that demand from a child of mine.

My son had worn the jacket the prior week at wilderness school and it was full of mud. He washed it. (He and his brother do the family's laundry and he puts away his own clothing.) Now it is now lost. Only six days had gone by and it had not been re-worn. Where was it?

As we pack for his camping trip this weekend, with rain predicted for Saturday night I told him to pack the raincoat. Well now what?

Now my other son and I are running around with him looking in all the places where it should be. We can't find it.

Yet again this is something we spent money on and bought a quality item as I wanted something that actually worked (unlike cheaper rain coats I've bought that are actually not waterproof!) and this son has lost it.

So I told him if it rains I will give him a big garbage bag with holes cut out for his arms to wear as a poncho. He got a look of horror on his face.

Then I recalled we have a big rain poncho, it is bright yellow with a giant Mickey Mouse on it. We bought for a couple of bucks at Disney World when a big rainstorm hit on one of our past trips. I gave it to him and again he got a look of horror on his face.

The third alternative, the choice is up to him, is when it starts raining and he must be outdoors for the many scheduled events at the camping trip, he can choose to wear his regular spring jacket or a hoodie, and get all wet, then go to sleep wet.

So, parents, there you go with a story of natural consequences being used instead of traditional punishment. I'm giving the boy his choice of three options.

For the record I did consider lending him a nice rain jacket/windbreaker that my husband got for a gift, but I use it when I'm outside exercising or doing yardwork, and frankly, I don't want to risk letting him use it this weekend lest he lose that one too, then I'll be out a jacket that I use and I'll need to buy one to replace it. Forget it.

Update May 2009: My husband went on the camping trip with him. When I told my husband the plan for the natural consequence he said I was being cruel. We discussed it and I lost out. My son was given one of my husband's extra windbreakers the he received free from attending a professional conference for work. It is not as high quality as my son's LL Bean one but it is better than a big poncho or a trash bag.

Update July 2009: The raincoat suddenly appeared. My son had put it on a hanger and put it in his closet with his short and long sleeved shirts. He says he looked there back in May but didn't see it. In his daily use of said closet since May he never noticed the coat hanging there. I had not double checked the closet in May since my son swore it wasn't there, I was looking elsewhere. Since my son dresses himself and puts away his own clean clothing I have no reason to ever go into his closet so I never saw it there later either.

The real place the jacket belongs is in the hallway closet near the door we exit the home from. That was thoroughly checked and it wasn't there.

This is yet another example of that son of mine not putting things away where they belong, being careless in his organization and storage of items. It is also another care of him not seeing what is right in front of him. He often does that, says he looked for something in a drawer and complains it is not there when I know it is there, then when I look it is there.

I chalk it up to another trait of the very visual-spatial person.


Crimson Wife said...

I've noticed the overlap between kids' and adult sizes and use it to save $$$ on my own clothes when I can. My winter dress coat is a girls' size 16 and it cost about half what the store was charging for a virtually identical misses' size 4P.

James Marcus Bach said...

This is a good story. Sometimes I worry about the "natural consequences" idea, because I've heard examples that sound like the consequences where pretty contrived. In your case, it seems that the consequences were a result of your son's actions and your own reasonable needs.