On Monday, I received an email from my son’s school guidance counselor. Did I realize that he had a ton of homework over the weekend, none of which was completed? Well, no…..
Now I’ll be the first to admit that my memory only lasts about 24 hours. But I distinctly remember the conversation last Friday afternoon. It went like this:
Me: So, how much homework do you have this weekend?
Me: Not even in your Friday Folder? (The Friday Folder holds all the assignments he failed to finish during the week, for
torture completion over the weekend.)
Jayden: Nope! I worked really hard in 6th period and got everything done. So now can I play video games all weekend? That is, when I’m not busy reminding you what an amazing mother you are?
Me: Of course you can, my darling child! And I’ll make a nutritious, home-cooked meal from scratch while giving the windows their once-a-week cleaning.
Okay, so those last few moments are a little fuzzy. But the point remains – my child is, yet again, a lying liar who lies.
The Back Story
For those of you who don’t know, Jayden has Asperger’s Syndrome. You can read a slightly less stabby version of what that means for him, but basically, middle school is a nightmare. Homework is a nightmare. If he manages to finish high school, I’m bringing my own cap to throw in the air because THAT is how excited I’ll be to escape what I thought I escaped at my own graduation.
At the end of last school year, I blamed myself for his crappy grades and lack of effort. This year, though, I’m realizing a few things about raising a teenager. And for the record, it SUCKS!
Asperger’s does not prevent him from manipulating to get his way, lying about things he doesn’t want to do, or using his diagnosis as an excuse. The brutal honesty he showed as a child isn’t gone; he’ll still bust out things like, “No thanks, I always eat before we come over here because your cooking makes me sick,” or “My burp just tasted like cheeseburger but I haven’t eaten a burger all week!” (Those gems never fail to make me wish I could disappear.) But underneath that lack of social understanding is a newfound epiphany – Lying can prevent me from getting in trouble if I learn to do it well!
What This Has to Do With Retirement
When I found out Jay lied to me about having homework last Friday, I nearly blew a gasket. He knows how much I despise lying – in fact, he was grounded from all electronic devices last Thursday for the exact same thing. After I responded to the guidance counselor’s email with something like, “Don’t worry, he’ll be grounded until he dies,” I began contemplating his punishment.
There’s a viral video on YouTube where a father shoots holes in his daughter’s laptop after she talked smack about her parents on Facebook. While I applaud his approach, I’m not quite financially secure enough to destroy a brand new Xbox. Yet merely grounding Jay, even for several months, didn’t seem like enough.
I posted on Facebook, offering the Xbox with its accessories and games for sale. Within minutes, I had an inbox full of people interested in buying it. Last night I sold it for $350 – money that is going straight to my Roth IRA. Why? Because if getting him to adulthood is going to give me gray hair, I’m going to let him contribute to my old lady hair dye fund every time he acts like an idiot.
Some people have openly disagreed with my methods – my mother, for one – but I’m sick of the role that video games have taken in my son’s life. Autistic kids tend to obsess over things, and video games have absolutely consumed Jay for the last few years. Now that he has no video game console, no cell phone, no allowance, and no access to his computer until his grades improve, guess what he spent the last two nights doing (other than his homework)? READING A BOOK. Score one for Mom.
Preparing for Future Contributions
Now that I’m angry and the precedent is set, I’m looking forward to Jayden’s future contributions to my retirement savings. I’d like to think this incident will cure him, but I know that liars often take time to reform. So I informed him of my other plans to help him conquer his filthy habit:
Next time: Everything but his mattress will be removed from his room and stored in the attic.
The next: His belongings will be auctioned off on eBay. All of them.
After that: I will smash his computer with a sledgehammer and I will never buy him another one.
If it continues: He will receive a brand new wardrobe consisting of nothing but pink shirts and capri pants.
From there: I’m not putting anything in writing. Jail is no good for me.
Of course, right now all Jayden cares about is earning enough money to buy another Xbox. So I told him he can earn one dollar for every A on an assignment and 50 cents for every B. Every grade below that will knock a dollar off his balance. He’s not allowed to supplement the fund with birthday money or money from any future job he may have. Every time he lies to me, the balance will be transferred to my IRA, on top of the consequences listed above. At this rate, he should have enough money for a new game console right about the time he’s graduating high school.
Either way it goes, both of our futures are looking brighter already.