Tate has very little understanding about time. He picks random times out of the air when he wants to give us a time frame. He might say, “At 11:00 I want to go get ice cream” yet he has no idea when 11:00 is. He might tell us that he has been in his room for ten hours when it was only thirty minutes or that he was at school for seventeen hours. Some mornings when I drop him off he will tell me, “You’ll be back in 23 minutes.”
Money and the value of a dollar has been very hard for him to grasp as well. He does not understand that the price tag on a DVD and a cart full of groceries would not be the same. In order to teach him something about money, Tate’s wonderful behavior consultant thought it might help if he had a chore and the ability to earn some money, along with shopping trips so he can buy some of the things he wants using the money He EARNED. It is actually going very well. I decided that unloading the dishwasher would be a good chore for Tate because he has excellent matching skills and he would just have to match each dish or utensil to its correct cabinet or drawer. It took a while but he has become an expert dishwasher un-loader. If I remember correctly he has only broken a couple of glasses so far. Tate gets one dollar every time he does his chore and he is usually able to earn one dollar a day. Occasionally if he asks for a break and wants to forfeit his dollar, I agree and unload the dishwasher myself. Tate has been keeping track of how many times he has unloaded the dishwasher and I believe it is a fairly accurate count. He almost always gives at least a little bit of a protest about the "hard" work. I usually call, “Tate, the dishwasher is ready for you to unload.” He will say, “But mom! I have done it 67 times now!” Then I will say, “That is a lot of times but it has to be done everyday.” He will end with something like, “This will be 68. Maybe this will be the last time. I will really miss it.” (I think he is really catching on to the sarcasm thing I blogged about a while back. Blog post: What brought you here?)
Tate keeps his money in a “safe” with a plastic combination lock. He is learning to count it. He still needs a lot of help with the coins but the paper money he is managing fairly well. So far the timing has been working out for us. Usually a DVD Tate wants will come out about the time he has around $20.00 saved. A couple of times when I saw he was going to be a couple of dollars short we’ve come up with another job or two he could do. Picking up sticks in the yard before we mow is something he HATES to do and can think of so many excuses when I suggest it. It can be 3:00 in the afternoon without a cloud in the sky and he will tell me it is about to rain or that it is too close to bedtime. The kid with almost no imagination can get pretty creative if he is trying to avoid manual labor. Two or three times we’ve even picked up sticks next door in Grandma and Grandpa’s yard for $1.00. Several times lately as we were getting in the car to go somewhere Tate has said, “If this is a trick to get me to pick up sticks in Grandpa’s yard, count me out!” That really cracks us up. He thinks we are all slave drivers.
A couple of days ago when I handed Tate his daily dollar he paused and asked, “Where do you get these dollars anyway?” Because Tate does not often ask the whys, or the where or how questions, I was thrown for a second. I had to think fast but talk slowly or I'd lose his attention. I reminded him about the kind of work his dad does and explained that people pay his dad for doing the work (Well, most of them do…. But that is another blog post for another day. HA) Tate did not walk away before I was done talking as he sometimes does. He listened. I had to keep the explanation short. I wanted to get more detailed and explain banks and checks and deposits but I knew better. It is a fine line I walk when teaching Tate. He asked a question and cared enough about the answer to stay and listen. I think he even understood. I have to celebrate the small things. Small things are really big things in our world.