Saturday, December 15, 2007

The right tax

In economics, taxing bad behaviour (so called sin taxes) can be set equal to the costs of that activity on others. The end result is sometimes the bad behaviour occurs, the price is paid but everyone is at least as well off as before.

In parenting that is rarely the logic of punishment. It is often set to deter the said activity. Here is a story of a situation where that didn't work out; although the child was stunningly economically rational.

Renny: Momma I haffa sit in time out.

DaMomma: Huh? Why, Love?

Renny: I ate a candle.

(DaMomma, looking over to table where a candle has distinctive mouse-like gnaw marks on it.)

DaMomma (sigh): Okay, time to sit in time out then.

Renny: (Shrugging, trotting over to kitchen Naughty Corner.) O’tay.

Later, while making brownies:

Renny: Momma, I take the butter to show Daddy.

DaMomma: Okay, but don’t take it out of the wrapper, okay? I mean it.

Renny: O’tay!


Renny: Momma … can Sissy sit in time out with me?

DaMomma: Baby, you already did your … why do you need a time out?

Renny: I opened da butter.

(There, on the living room floor, nowhere near Daddy, an opened, mushed stick o’butter.)

Renny (hopeful): Sissy do time out wid me? Momma? (Getting carried up the stairs to her room.) MOMMA NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! (Down on the bedroom floor, knowing the door is about to shut, hands on hips looking at Momma.) I. DON’T. LIKE YOU MOMMA.

DaMomma (Long, thoughtful pause. Then, leaning over) I LIKE YOUUUUUUU!!!!!


Renny: And den I opened da butter and she took me to mah room and made me cry!

Daddy: That IS sad, Renny.

DaMomma: Ren, are you sorry you ate the candle?

Renny (very serious blue eyes): Yes, Momma.

DaMomma: Are you ever going to do it again?

Renny: Oh, yes, Momma! And den I sit in time out!