Our particular suburban area has a big reputation for parents who let their kids run the show and get whatever they want, from electronics to cars (and I’m not talking ancient fixer-upper cars; I mean new ones) without expecting even a “thank you”. Unfortunately, although the reputation wasn’t earned by 100% of the parents around here, it is quite accurate in many cases.

One of the many things I am very proud of is that we are raising the boys to earn for themselves many of the things that their friends are getting from their parents just by asking for them.

By doing really well at the middle school fundraisers each fall, the older boy earned his iPod Mini in 7th grade and a check for $200 in 8th grade. The younger boy earned a phone (ack! I hated that thing though…and it broke within weeks) in 6th grade and the $200 check in 7th grade.

We give them $20 per month for hot lunches–if they use it ALL wisely they could get 4-5 hot lunches each month (and they bring lunch the rest of the time), but we allow them to keep whatever they don’t use, so they mostly get hot lunch once or twice each month and save the rest.

By saving that lunch money and their allowances, as well as money earned by walking the neighbor’s dog, babysitting (older boy) and cleaning the salon once a week (older boy), they have purchased various technology items including a video camera (younger boy) and a laptop (older boy). As you would expect, they take care of these items like they are precious cargo because they know not only how hard it was to save for them, but also that their parents aren’t going to jump in and replace these things if they get broken or lost.

Unfortunately, after his laptop was 18 months old, the screen cracked from his carrying it around the house in the “Open” position and it was unfixable for a reasonable amount of money. He saved up religiously again and decided to get a desktop computer for his room (NO INTERNET) so that it would hopefully last longer and not be as “fragile” as the laptop. (Oh, uh, and yeah…so he wouldn’t crack the screen by carrying it around wrong!) In the meantime, the younger boy has been also saving like a madman since his brother got his laptop, because he wants a computer for his own use (NO INTERNET) as well.

Well, Halleluyah, this week they were both ready to get their computers. The other day the fifteen-year-old and I went to the HP website where he had researched what he wanted. I helped him order it and put it on my credit card. He will reimburse me in cold, hard cash when the bill rolls in.

His printer and monitor arrived today, and I brought it in from the porch and put it at the top of the landing in the living room.

After school, the thirteen-year-old asked for help in ordering his computer. We went to the Dell website where HE had researched what he wanted. I helped him order it and put it on my credit card. Same drill about the reimbursement business except, just as we did with the older boy’s first computer purchase, we are putting $100 towards it since he’s using it for homework. He was very excited to get it ordered and ran upstairs to his room to figure out what he had to move in order to make room for everything.

I went to the kitchen to clean up for a bit and a few minutes later, heard him running down the stairs, nearly tripping over the boxes I had brought in from the porch.

“IT’S HERE ALREADY????????????”, he screamed excitedly.

I laughed and said, “No!! That stuff is your brother’s!”

He suddenly realized how ridiculous the idea was, of getting your computer delivered directly to your living room 15 minutes after ordering it and sheepishly said,

“OH, right….”