At one time or another, every parent feels like the village idiot, and at one time or another, every parent is the epitome of village wisdom. While I may spend more time in the former category, my village is well stocked with the latter.
Regardless of villager status, there is a point when your kids can, if given the right circumstances, outsmart you. It’s a major plot point of more kid movies and television shows than I care to acknowledge, but as parents our goal is to stay one step ahead or, at the very least, not 10 steps behind these antics.
I have three children. When she was 12, most of Child One’s plans to outsmart us had to do with staying up reading past bedtime.
At 12, Child Two habitually sneaked food into a no-food room or tried to make us believe he had watched far less TV than he had.
Child Three is now 12. This kid learned from the mistakes of his siblings…but what he learned was how NOT to get caught.
Thankfully I have the village in my corner for his Outsmart Parents phase.
“I’m making real money selling virtual coins I earn playing this video game,” he told me one day. “It’s OK, Mom; the company wouldn’t let me sell them if it wasn’t.”
“It’s OK” sets off warning bells and frantically waving red flags; “It’s OK” roughly translates to, “I’m trying to con you.”
My working knowledge of video games ended with too many Mario Kart crashes…but my village has several long-time gamers. I called a village meeting with a Facebook post and quickly learned that what he was doing was legal but unethical. While he eloquently defended himself to them, the village held firm — he deleted his game account.
The phase wasn’t over, though. He decided that the best way for a 12 year-old to make money was selling baseball cards, and the best place for a kid who lives in a rural area to sell baseball cards is on eBay.
In short order he:
Opened an eBay account.
Opened a PayPal account.
Put several cards for sale.
Sold one of them for $230.
I was only brought on-board when he realized that he had no way to get to the post office to mail it.
While this does show a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit, he broke a dazzling number of rules both online and at home. We shut down his eBay, cut the connection to his bank account and doled out a punishment.
Once he earned back the electronics and computer cords Dad and I had taken away, he claimed he needed a GoPro camera to fulfill his long-held dream of becoming a YouTuber, but his income stream had been damed up.
He tried asking for it, and the answer was, “ha, ha, ha. No.”
He tried paid chores to earn it, but he was still 30 bucks short.
Then, one day, he transferred 23 cents from his PayPal to mine with a note: Hi Mommy, what doing?
Four words, so many red flags: “Mommy?” That’s the butter-me up-name. “What doing?” More butter.
PayPal as note-delivery-service? That said, “It’s so easy to send me money, let’s play that game! Your turn!”
The Village genius that day was my friend Skye. I followed through on her suggestion and responded to him the same way he had contacted me.
Did you know that you can send invoices on PayPal?
Did you know that it’s super easy to itemize 12 years of child-rearing on a PayPal invoice?
A few hours later, instead of the money he expected he got a bill from me for $202,080.
I love the village.
Mom you left your computer open. Keep this message in your column. Here’s my PayPal if anyone would like to send me a little appreciation token- paypal.me/Vollenwn50…
Here we go again…
Susan Vollenweider and her young entrepreneur live in the Northland. To listen to the women’s history podcast that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com of www.susanvollenweider.com.