Preteen leaves freezer open all day! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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O.k, I am shaking. I left my 2 oldest boys at home for an hour while i went to a store. I came home and piled all the kids into the car and dropped my 2 oldest at an overnight came which lasts 1 week. They come back for 1 day then leave for another 1 week over night camp.

When I came home 6 hours later I went down to the basement to get something out of the freezer and EVERYTHING is defrosted and spoiled. Ice cream is running down the door, pizza dough is twice the size, every meat is squishy!!!! Everything had to be thrown out. What would you do to let your kids know how serious this is? I must have thrown out $300 or more of food. We can't afford to do this. This is the second time it has happened. I need a good punishment. I thought about serving pasta every night for 2 weeks. Pasta is cheap and my 2 oldest will eat it, but hate it. I just don't know how else to hit home for them. They both will say they did not do it, but I was in the basement doing laundry in the morning, so i know the door was shut. I know they thought they could sneak some ice cream when i was gone. I could also make them come with me everywhere I go, but then I have 5 kids with me as i run to the store.
What are your ideas?
Signed,
Angry mom with an empty freezer
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#2 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 09:27 PM
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Hmmm...no ice cream until September? Seems like a natural consequence.
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#3 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 09:47 PM
 
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Wow. You're nice. I am way meaner

$300/2 kids = 150 per child.

150$/10$ hour= 15 hours of work each they owe you.

While that may sound harsh, $10 is decent pay, so they will not be paying you off forever. Another glitch to this issue is one child is probably guilty of leaving it open, and the other may very well be innocent(ish) but will end up paying for the crime. Of course they both indulged in contraband ice cream (can't say I blame them for that, but leaving the freezer open is a different story)

As a young teen, I repeatedly left the stove on (I would bake cookies or fudge when my parents left). My parents caught on and would remove the fuses if they left the house.

My own Ds left the door to the car open one day at the beach. Yup, the battery drained. No one had cables either, and I had to call a garage for a jump.

In the future - does your freezer lock?
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#4 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 10:06 PM
 
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My partner, 37, made the same mistake not long ago when she got distracted. We lost quite a bit of food and it was unfortunate. I never thought of punishing her for her mistake. I'm not trying to be snarky but it seems like it was a mistake anyone could make, not an intentional misbehavior. In these situations, I try to ask myself how I would like to be treated if I made a similiar mistake (i.e. spilling things on the couch, leaving the milk out, etc.). Sorry about your spoiled food.
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#5 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 10:10 PM
 
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Yeah. I guess really thoroughly discussing it with them and then asking what they'd be willing to do to help out with this situation might be a good start? I don't have teens, but when I was a director of a summer camp, that's what I would have done...

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#6 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 10:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by robin4kids View Post
This is the second time it has happened. I need a good punishment. I thought about serving pasta every night for 2 weeks.
Once is an accident; I imagine you discussed the waste of food/energy with them at the time. Twice, at least as far as things like leaving doors open, water running, or other things I have been guilty of before, is being careless. I think having a consequence for carelessness is fair.

Logical consequences... I agree with a pp that no more ice cream for a while seems fair. And if you have enough food to last til the next shopping day, even if it's a bit boring, I'd use it. "The "good" food is spoiled, and groceries are expensive. I need to wait until next week to restock, and we'll have to eat what we have in the meantime."
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#7 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well They know they should not be going into the freezer. A 37 y/o person can replace the food. A 12 y/o can't unless they work it off for me. Also a 12 y/o is very self-centered, (or at least mine is) he does not think to do anything out of his way, nor does his brother. For those without preteens, I will warn you now, set up what is expected of them now, because if you don't they will walk all over you.

I like the idea of making them work it off, but again I am not sure who did it or even if both had ice cream. I just don't think I could come up with that much work for them. I expect the kids to do chores and i don't pay them for it. I don't want them to start thinking that they will get money every time they do a chore.

Any who i am calmer now and have a whole week to think about this. Thanks for the input.
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#8 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 10:43 PM
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I totally sympathize with how freaked out you are. Food prices are getting so ridiculous right now, I think I'd wet myself if someone spoiled everything in my freezer. *shiver*
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#9 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 10:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackysmama View Post
My partner, 37, made the same mistake not long ago when she got distracted. We lost quite a bit of food and it was unfortunate. I never thought of punishing her for her mistake. I'm not trying to be snarky but it seems like it was a mistake anyone could make, not an intentional misbehavior. In these situations, I try to ask myself how I would like to be treated if I made a similiar mistake (i.e. spilling things on the couch, leaving the milk out, etc.). Sorry about your spoiled food.
this.

I'd discuss it with your children, especially the monetary end of it. I'd explain that you don't have enough extra money to replace all of that food immediately and ask them to brainstorm with you to come up with a solution. If no solution can be reached during the conversation than schedule another discussion. It is better for their future to learn problem solving and budgeting than to gather up resentment for a top-down parental reaction.


And hugs about the food, I am a bit of a stockpiler and it would hurt.
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#10 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bonbon mama View Post
this.

I'd discuss it with your children, especially the monetary end of it. I'd explain that you don't have enough extra money to replace all of that food immediately and ask them to brainstorm with you to come up with a solution. If no solution can be reached during the conversation than schedule another discussion. It is better for their future to learn problem solving and budgeting than to gather up resentment for a top-down parental reaction.


And hugs about the food, I am a bit of a stockpiler and it would hurt.
I think that is a great idea and would probably go a lot further in helping them remember to close it than a punishment. Also, if you can't replace the food that goes in there right away, it means they are out ice cream, pizza, and other goodies until that money is available again.

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#11 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
Wow. You're nice. I am way meaner

$300/2 kids = 150 per child.

150$/10$ hour= 15 hours of work each they owe you.

While that may sound harsh, $10 is decent pay, so they will not be paying you off forever. Another glitch to this issue is one child is probably guilty of leaving it open, and the other may very well be innocent(ish) but will end up paying for the crime. Of course they both indulged in contraband ice cream (can't say I blame them for that, but leaving the freezer open is a different story)
YOU are nice, kathymuggle! i wouldn't "give" them $10 an hour to work it off! my ds, age 7, was throwing rocks over the road from our property (it's about 8' higher than the road) and hit a passing car in the windshield, about 6 weeks ago. it wasn't intentional either, but it cost me a lucky low $225 to replace that guy's windshield, and we're lucky that they didn't run off the road from the suddenness of it! my ds is working it off at a generous $4 an hour, and he had, to start, roughly 5 hours a week (or more, if he chose, but he didn't, and now he's trying to get out of it) for 10 weeks-- all. summer. long.

he's a little over halfway through, and if he doesn't hustle, he'll be at school all day (starts 8/13), followed by homework and then chores, with no room for fun. oh well. it's all a learning experience. there is no way to compare an adult's mistake with that of a child. an adult can get distracted, but an adult should also know that s/he has to pay for the mistake-- what if the adult lived alone, and did this?-- and raising a child is preparing them to BE an adult, and BE in the real world. so i see consequences as imposed by the parent as perfectly fitting. you do that at a job, later, and you get fired, likely.

it's ok to want the ice cream. even ok to sneak it. what kid doesn't? *i* sneak it, from myself! but it's not ok to not be mindful. this is an expensive mistake. i'd have them pay it off AND eat from the pantry for awhile.

i'm just mean mommy that way

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#12 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:16 PM
 
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Robin, that's really hard, I'm sorry

I guess I am in the middle. I agree with a consequence, as closely related as possible like brainstorming and helping somehow to replace the food. I also would invest in the lock for the basement freezer.

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#13 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:41 PM
 
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It's hard, because you can't know for sure who did it. If you knew, I'd definately make them work to pay it off.

To make it real for them, have them make a list of all the food that was ruined. Take them to the store, have them write down all the prices of the food, and add it up. You can tell them $300 worth of food, but having them have to go look for the pizza, beef, chicken, ect., write it down, add it up, may make it more real.
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#14 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:44 PM
 
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But a good thing about childhood is that you are this unformed being who is guided by loving adults rather a cog in a for-profit industry. Mistakes become opportunities for growth and discussion and brainstorming solutions. The difference between childhood and a job is the parents who care about the person more than the stuff and have an interest in how the person continues to develop. By being involved in the process a child gets an intimate look into how adults fix problems, a view of himself as a blossoming adult, and feels truly responsible not just resentful.
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#15 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:49 PM
 
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I don't have kids, but my mother certainly would have made me work it off, especially if it was the second time. And I agree with that. How are kids supposed to learn real world consequences if they aren't given any at home?

I really love this idea for coming up with the figure they need to work off:

Quote:
To make it real for them, have them make a list of all the food that was ruined. Take them to the store, have them write down all the prices of the food, and add it up. You can tell them $300 worth of food, but having them have to go look for the pizza, beef, chicken, ect., write it down, add it up, may make it more real.

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#16 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:50 PM
 
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That's nice bonbon mama, I agree.

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#17 of 28 Old 07-20-2008, 11:57 PM
 
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I like all the ideas about having them work it off. I would also have someone (or maybe you yourslef if you are handy) install a padlock on the freezer for now. Try no padlock again in 6 months....in the meantime, no more access to goodies. But definitely have them pay it off. The rest of their summer is gonna be pretty busy, LOL! And it does NOT matter which one did it....make em both work.
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#18 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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Oh, I am so sorry that happened. I know how it feels to find a freezer full of melted food. I couldn't blame my kids though, my rabbit chewed through the electrical cord. If I wasn't a vegetarian she would have been made into stew.

I do agree that getting them involved would be a great process to handle it. No goodies for some time and a lock on the freezer seems very reasonable to me. I hope they really get the magnitude of how carelessness can carry some heavy consequences.
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#19 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 12:21 AM
 
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Work is good for boys. It builds character. I think having them work to pay for the cost of the lost food is a logical, natural consequence.

If it's in your budget to pay them, you could go that route. Or encourage them to find a way to earn the money on their own. When my husband was 10 or 12, he used to clean out neighbor's garbage cans for $20 each.

He was smart, saved the money he earned doing that and working a paper route, invested it in a tech stock, and had more than $50,000 when he graduated from college for a downpayment on a house.

I think this is a great learning opportunity...make the most of it.
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#20 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 01:13 AM
 
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Count me in as another "work it off" parent. Work will make them see that the food they ruined actually had monetary worth.

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#21 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 07:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackysmama View Post
My partner, 37, made the same mistake not long ago when she got distracted. We lost quite a bit of food and it was unfortunate. I never thought of punishing her for her mistake. I'm not trying to be snarky but it seems like it was a mistake anyone could make, not an intentional misbehavior. In these situations, I try to ask myself how I would like to be treated if I made a similiar mistake (i.e. spilling things on the couch, leaving the milk out, etc.). Sorry about your spoiled food.
I agree.

They probably do need to be punished since this is not the first time. I'm not sure what type of punishment would work. They sound careless. It also sounds like something my husband would do. and I'm quite sure he'd do it more than once.

I'm the type that goes behind everyone and checks things when it's something I'm not completely sure about. Perhaps you could do that, especially when you know you will be gone for a few hours. Check things like that to make sure all is closed up and locked. That way if you catch them doing it again in the future you can simply go get them and ask them to go back and close it tightly. Keep doing that and they will likely get the idea engrained in their minds and never forget again.

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#22 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 10:19 AM
 
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It's hard, because you can't know for sure who did it. If you knew, I'd definately make them work to pay it off.

To make it real for them, have them make a list of all the food that was ruined. Take them to the store, have them write down all the prices of the food, and add it up. You can tell them $300 worth of food, but having them have to go look for the pizza, beef, chicken, ect., write it down, add it up, may make it more real.
I think that's a brilliant idea.

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#23 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 10:46 AM
 
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my 12 yr old son did this but I caught it before the meat thawed. Just 5 or 6 containers of ice cream were ruined. The potential loss for the grass fed beef in our freezer from his carelessness was $2K, so I really needed to make him understand the magnitude of this oversight. I made him work it off with slave labor......like cleaning the toilet and scrubbing the bathtub and cleaning up cat vomit and poo and other lovely things that no one likes to do. I believe that the cat was sick at that time so it was really great on timing as far as having a lot of gross jobs to do. LOL.:
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#24 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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I'm the type that goes behind everyone and checks things when it's something I'm not completely sure about. Perhaps you could do that, especially when you know you will be gone for a few hours. Check things like that to make sure all is closed up and locked.
But that puts responsibility of the behaviors of other people on you, not them. The OP should not have to add to what I'm sure is already a large list of responsibilities, and start running down to the basement several times a day. It's reasonable for her to be able to trust family members to close a door and check it.

OP, nothing to do with discipline, but I wondered how it was possible to leave a freezer door open. Is this a standard fridge/freezer? If so, maybe the kiddos are "slamming" the door too hard, and not noticing when it bounces back open. So maybe it would help them to understand that the door needs to be pressed into place (not slammed) and that if they get in the habit of taking 1 second to check the seal before leaving, they'll save themselves a lot of grief (a habit that is helpful throughout life).

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#25 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 02:57 PM
 
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What about one of those alarms that sound really loud when the fridge/freezer door is open for longer than 60 seconds?

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#26 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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Do you have household insurance? Some policies cover this kind of thing.
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#27 of 28 Old 07-21-2008, 07:34 PM
 
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it's not always carelessness, either. we used to have a freezer that you really had to be mindful about PUSHING it to everytime you closed it. if you walked away and kind of slammed it as you left it would bounce open slightly. maybe it's a good idea to watch them close the freezer to make sure it's closing properly.

i agree there should be SOME consequence.
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#28 of 28 Old 07-24-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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I think they sell open window alarms for thieves, maybe see if those could be installed in the freezer. It's a contact alarm so when the contact is broken it makes noise.

I think they do 'owe' you something because they are a part of the family and that kind of an economic loss is going to impact them. I would ask them what they want to do. Work it off to you. Go out and earn some money mowing lawns or whatever. Or forgo activities (i.e. movies) until the money is made back.

I would feed them pasta and let them experience what it's like not to have a choice in what they eat--that seems to be a natural consequence imo. I would not keep ice cream in the freezer. I would stock only boring things that are of no interest to them.

I would also print a reminder sign that they would, hopefully, see on their way out of the room.

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