A Herculean Challenge: The 12 Labors of Tucker

One reason I dislike my children watching regular, non-PBS cable TV is the commercials, those 30-second seductions perfectly geared to Id-driven young children. Last week my son begged me to take him to Popeye’s Chicken, as if it were a five-star restaurant. This week it is the hamper hoop, which is exactly what the name indicates, a laundry basket with a basketball hoop. I placed a laundry basket under the small indoor basketball hoop we already have and said, “Voila.” My six year old was not impressed.

My husband and I have no clear policy regarding buying nonessential items when it isn’t a birthday or holiday. And right now, our son is not ready to manage his own money. If we unlocked his piggy bank, I guarantee it would be followed by a binge of impulse spending. I also did not want to do a trade — if you do this activity, you will get this reward. According to Daniel Pink’s book Drive, we shouldn’t give rewards for chores, as that creates an expectation. The logic being if I pay them once for making their bed, why should they ever make it for free again?

My solution was to introduce my son to the twelve labors of Hercules. As luck would have it, a children’s version was available online and I was able to introduce him to Greek mythology and give him a way to earn his hamper hoop. To acquire it, he needed to come up with twelve challenges. Some of the challenges he came up with were to complete a puzzle, pick up his toys, read a book to his sister, and complete a craft. He isn’t strangling lions or moving rivers, but unlike Hercules, he is not going for immortality, just a glorified hamper.

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