Thursday, September 6, 2007

The contract state

Recently, my 8 year old daughter complained that her mother kept reneging on promises. She would promise one thing and then when the time came to keep the promise, she would change it or move it further away in time. It was, of course, all true.

So we had a discussion as to what to do about it. I suggested that perhaps she would like to get things in writing the next time Mummy made a promise.

"What good would that do?"

"Well you would have a record of what the promise is."

"So what? She will just change it again."

"In that case you could point out that it is a binding contract."

"What does binding contract mean?"

"It means that if Mummy doesn't keep her promise, the government will step in to enforce it."

"Really, how?"

"You could take Mummy to Court and a judge would order her to keep her promise."

With that she whipped up Microsoft Word and drew herself up a contract including her consideration not to complain about the broken promise unless it was broken. Her mother was surprised to get the contract, in duplicate, but signed it anyhow.

Tonight, I found myself being presented with my own contract terms. I had, over dinner, promised to let my daughter stay up late over the Spring break if she went to bed early before it. An hour later I was asked to sit down and sign a contract to that effect, including the standard 'no complaint' clause. I happily signed and our signatures were witness and the contract was filed away.

I am a little worried that I have opened a can of worms here. Everything has suddenly gone from informal to highly legalistic. I guess our daughter has a few trust issues. But at the moment I have no complaints.