#255 – The Love Meter

While chatting last week, my friend Ava once again bemoaned the crappy attitude of her youngest son.  Unlike his fifteen-year-old brother Stephen, the now-thirteen-year-old Luke shows no respect to his mother, underachieves in school, and treats his home like a garbage dump.  I half-jokingly told Ava she wouldn’t have these problems if she’d stop treating the two boys equally.  As I put it: “Why show both kids you love them the same, when one of them seems far less deserving than the other?”

Facetiously, more or less, I suggested that Ava implement a “love meter” for her kids.  It would graphically represent the love periodically earned by each son.  The meter would rise on instances of good behavior, kindness and respect and fall for crimes of sloth, disregard and insult. And most importantly, the meter’s levels would translate into concrete expressions of a mother’s love: i.e., rewards!

Of course, Ava scoffed at my proposal.  Yet the more I pondered it, the more I thought it could work, albeit in a perverse way.  I consequently prepared a mockup, so she could see exactly what I had in mind. Yesterday, I e-mailed the results.  Here’s what I sent:


Behavior                                                   Love Points

Saying “I love you mom”                                                       +20

Cleaning your room                                                               +30

“A” on report card                                                                 +50

Doing your own laundry                                                        +40

Doing your parents’ laundry too                                            +80

Miscellaneous act of kindness toward mother                       +20 – +100

Cursing                                                                                  -25

Smoking                                                                                 -50

Drinking alcohol                                                                     -50

Doing drugs                                                                           -100

“C” or below on report card                                                  -30

Saying “I hate you mom”                                                      -100

Throwing your dirty underwear on the floor                         -10

Miscellaneous negative behavior                                          -20 – -100

Love Rewards/Penalties                             Points Needed

One night extended curfew                                                 200

New video game                                                                  200

iPhone 4                                                                              1000

Leather jacket                                                                     1000

Cool tattoo                                                                          5000

Sports car for seventeenth birthday                                   20000

Named sole beneficiary under mother’s Will                       50000

Grounded one week                                                           -300

Left at home on next family vacation                                  -1000

Disowned                                                                            -20000

I heard back from Ava this morning.  As she informed me, she’d printed out my “stupid Love Meter” and associated tables and left the documents in her desk drawer … where her snooping younger son discovered them last night.  Papers in hand, the indignant young man had confronted his mother, demanding to know: “What the fuck is this?!”

Everyone has a breaking point, and the combination of cursing and obvious snooping activated Ava’s.  She snatched the documents from her son, scanned the pages and announced: “It’s exactly what it says; and you’ve just lost another hundred and twenty-five love points!  Keep this crap up and you’ll never get that iPhone you want.  In fact, you’ll be well on your way to disowning!”

After a restless sleep, Ava awoke feeling extremely guilty.  She planned to apologize to her son as soon as she dressed and tell him the Love Meter was nothing but her idiot friend’s joke.  But before she left the bed, Luke knocked on the door.  He entered bearing a breakfast platter he’d prepared specially for her.  Setting down the tray, he kissed his astonished mother on the cheek, told her “I love you mom” and left the room.

Ava knows she’ll have to come clean to her son, and she said she’ll definitely tell him the truth … “in a week or two, or at worst once the school year ends.”






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#255 – The Love Meter — 2 Comments

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