How Would You Handle It? My Son Sold A Toy For Too Much!

BY: - 5 Oct '11 | Parenting

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by Rene Syler (

This article originally appeared on Rene’s Good Enough Mother (GEM) site.

Hey everyone! We’re gonna start a new thread around these parts called, ” How would you handle it?” You already know my take on modern motherhood; for those of you coming in on the middle of the movie, you can read about it here. It’s a big gig, one that we relish for the most part. But there really are situations that stump us all and, given the collaborative nature of GEM, I figure we can rely on each other to find solutions. Plus it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy. Okay so here’s we go, the first installment of, “How would you handle it?”

Last night I was in my son’s room, which could have been mistaken for the Knicks locker room, what with the underwear on the floor and faint smell of b.o. Just as my eyes were starting to water uncontrollably, I spied 30 bucks lying on his desk. Now I am keenly aware of how much money this kid has at all times, given I’m the one who gives it to him in the form of allowance   and what was on the desk was about a month’s worth.

“Where did that money come from?” I asked, pinching my nose in an effort to ward off the olfactory assault. “Oh, Michael bought that old gun from me.” Now, “that old gun” was a broken, piece of junk, a toy one of Cole’s friends gave him that, when the trigger was pulled, made the most annoying, clacking sound. I was happy to see it go but there’s no way in hell it was worth 30 bucks.

“You have to give some of that money back.” I told Cole, which of course was just the spark we needed for the Battle Royale that ensued just before bedtime. I tried to explain to my baby boy   the importance of being fair because, “that’s what we do in this family.” Cole shook his head, “But mom, Michael offered it. This is how much he wanted to pay.”

The story ends this way. I told Cole he had to give back ten dollars or I was taking all his electronics for the year (Please God, don’t let him make me do that!). I also told him I’d be calling Michael’s mother to make sure Cole had done that (oh great, now SHE’LL be pissed her son even bought that hunk of junk). Needless to say, Cole wasn’t real happy with me last night and won’t be today either when he has to turn over that ten-spot.

Okay, so, how would you handle it? Did I do the right thing in insisting Cole give back some of the money or should I have applauded my son’s entrepreneurial spirit? What would you have done?

After two decades as a television news anchor, including 4 years on CBS’s The Early Show, Syler decided it was time for a change. Tired of reading from a teleprompter, René was determined to find her own voice and inspire women like herself ““ juggling busy lives, raising children and trying to live up to impossible parenting ideals. The result René’s missive on modern motherhood, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and its subsequent website

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9 WordPress comments on “How Would You Handle It? My Son Sold A Toy For Too Much!

  1. Rasaan Jay

    You did the right thing if you plan to raise him in another country. America was built on the idea of Capitalism. I think this is a catch 22, because at that age I’m sure you want to teach him respect of others, not to take advantage of people, play fair, etc. etc. But at the same time he has to learn the rules of the society in which he lives and exists. Rule number 1, something is only worth as much or as little as someone is willing to pay for it.  And what is junk to you maybe priceless to another (you know…. one man’s trash is another man’s treasure) . You can see that when you watch that road show and there are tons of people who bring in what seems like junk they found in their old garage or storage and it turns out it’s worth thousands. Should they have to say, “Oh well I don’t think you should give me that much, it’s just old junk that I had sitting around.  Just give me a 20 and you take it.”   I think there must be a way to provide both lessons of not taking advantage of someone and taking the “moral high road”, but at the same time knowing how to negotiate something’s worth. Because think about it, negotiating worth and those skills will go way past selling a toy, it will follow into life and assure him that he knows how to get the most bang for his buck  on both sides of the trade. That there was a good teaching opportunity.    Think about ti, one day he’ll have to negotiate a salary and I don’t think you want him saying, “Ohh no I couldn’t accept that salary, I’m wayyy to under qualified to take that.”

  2. Nikki

    ohhh… that’s a hard one. I probably would have let him keep it on the condition that if the other kid brought it back saying it was broken (within a week or two), he had to return his money in full.

  3. IVY


  4. Sweetles

    I think you did the right thing. Part of raising a well rounded individual is teaching children to be fair. The toy was broken and clearly not worth $30.00. This is a lesson in morality that hopefully will go a long way. Just because someone is willing to overpay for something that is junk, does  not mean we should sell it. We aren’t talking about antiques, or other objects that could potentially have some worth, we are talking about a toy that does not work well. Thirty dollars is a lot of money to a child. I applaud the fact that you had concern for the child who paid for the toy. I am trying to raise fair and unselfish people, and would have handled the situation similarly to how you did.

  5. Briana Myricks

    I’d have him give the money back if he’s the one who set the price, but since it was the other boy who offered, it’s fair game. He didn’t take advantage but he benefited. See your son as an entrepreneur in training :)

  6. Rasaan Jay

    See that’s is what I love about good ole blogs, often times folks providing answers of how they’d like things to be but not quite capturing the reality of the situation. Take this scenerio for instance, well we are never given the sons age, so that in and of itself makes it a difficult situation. I mean a lesson for a 7 year old would be much different that a lesson for a 10 or 11 year old. Now I understand a perceived broken gun is not an antique but neither are used pants and Adults buy them all the time and label them “Vintage” and will pay untold amounts to get them. Morality plays a small part in this situation because he did not just find the money laying around. If that were the case it would be right to give it back. Perhaps instead of just making him give it back to teach him a lesson with a broad stroke, maybe both children should have been brought in the room go gain a better understanding of just why it was so important to the other boy that he buy it for 30 bucks… and to everyones surprise you may have just found out that he was about to sell it to someone else for $40… long shot but stranger things have happened.        

  7. Claudine

    I understand what you did was right but for me it would be too much drama in regards to me calling the other kid mother so I would of let him keep the money unless the kid came back and complain… Then he would have to give the money back and in the future he would not be allowed to SELL ANYTHING without my permission unless he’s over 18 or he will be on punishment .

  8. Fas4

    Friends do not take advantage of one another, they look out for one another. I would be concerned that the other child may not have a solid grasp of money-cost-worth via his unwise overpayment of a broken item; I would discuss that with my sons friend or pull the coat-tail of his parents. I would talk to both boys together in hopes that both would renegociate the sale and make it beneficial for both parties. NOW, if the gun was sold to a everyday-Joe, I would commend my son on recognizing and accepting a great deal.

  9. Ptanaka

    He SOLD it. It’s not like he stole it.  It’s an Eat or be  Eaten  world. I would normally not be so crash, but we all learn our lessons. I’d tell your son to have some heart and NOT rip folks off in the future. I would like to think the buyer will eventually  wise  up to the fact he got rolled. That kid learned a lesson, too.
    Don’t over think too much, mom. You’re doing good!


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