William has been doing a lot of lawn mowing and helping out with whatever project we are in the midst of. He's been stashing money away for the VR, which is hidden away until he earns the necessary $250 that we spent to buy a used one. At this point, he has tucked away $144 towards it, and the end goal is in sight.
He had a couple lawn mowing jobs lined up and was begging for more work. I gave him the job to sweep out the garage at the rental. It is a two car garage with an attached workshop, and it was admittedly a big job. It was also a $10 job, and he was chomping at the bit to get that done.
I went out to the garage with him, and I explained how it needed to be done. I showed him the debris in the corners and against the walls. I told him to sweep the stuff from one side to the middle of the garage, and then go to the other side, and start sweeping that to the line of dirt in the middle of the garage. Once you got that done, simply sweep the big line of dirt into a big pile of dirt. I explained that since it was a $10 job, and that he would be required to do a good job.
Enthusiastically, he told me that he would do a good job, and I headed off to do the kitchen.
Five minutes later, he was in the kitchen. "I'm all done," he proclaimed.
I knew that he couldn't be, but we walked back out. He had swept, but there were random circles of clean space with a pile of debris in the center of each them.
I showed him again, how to sweep methodically, pointing out the stuff that he was missing. He was obviously irritated. and as usual, he desperately needed to have the last word. No matter what I said, he responded, "I did the best I could."
It was another chance for me to practice patience.
"William, did you or did you not miss some spots?"
He agreed that he had, but added "I did the best I could."
I turned and walked back to the house.
Five minutes later, he was back in. "I got it done."
I went back out, and pointed out why he wasn't.
This went on for another couple rounds. He was getting mighty mad. I was struggling to keep my own cool. "Listen William, you're in such a rush to finish the job that you're not even trying to follow instructions and that's a part of doing a good job. I'm not going to fight with you about it. We're talking about a hour's worth of work, if you do it right. If you are not going to do a good job, you are not getting paid the full $10. The choice is yours."
He insisted he wanted $10.
I said, "Well, then you need to follow instructions. I've given you the same instructions. I've demonstrated."
He got mad then. In the end, I said, "William, this is getting really frustrating. When you work at a job, you need to do the job to your boss' expectations. I'm not going to continue debating with you. Sometimes you need to listen and be willing to take instruction. I'm not paying the full $10. I am deducting $2.50 for your attitude. You can stop right here. The job is half done. You will get $5. If you want to earn the last $2.50, you can finish it."
I headed back to the kitchen yet again, letting him decide how he was going to handle it.
He did get the job done, and he got it done right. I scrubbed the refrigerator and we discussed what happened. He apologized. We talked about how apologies need to be a starting point, that if you're sorry, that means you've seen what you need to change, and you begin to try to change that behavior.
He got his act together, and he cheerfully helped for the next couple hours while we reassembled the kitchen. His grandfather came back from a morning worth of errands, and William mowed two lawns under Tim's supervision (he's still new at this.) He wound up earning a princely sum of $32.50 for the two lawn mowing jobs, his allowance, and the garage.
This morning, he helped me clean kitchen. I asked him to sweep the kitchen floor for me. He told me that he knew how to do a good job. I moved into the livingroom to continue working, leaving him unsupervisied. He did an exacting and careful job.
When I walked back out into the kitchen, he was just finishing up. He did a great job. I told him so.